Whenever I work with someone, I always search to understand them. Not just their situation as it relates to what brought them through my door, but truly them as a person and most especially what is important to them.
What they value, what they care about, what defines “good” for them. This helps me understand what they want, and where they want to go.
But there is also another thing that I have learned to listen for, and that is their expectations.
You see, someone may want their knee, back or shoulder to feel better..and most especially feel better when doing whatever it is that they love to do and have not been able to… however they may not entirely expect that to be possible.
This will absolutely limit that persons ability to try.
Another problem arises when the person may completely believe that it is possible for them to achieve what they are looking to, but they have expectations as to how it should unfold. These expectations are problematic when they are either inaccurate, or self-limiting.
This will sabotage them, regardless of how hard they may try.
So I have learned that expectations are not just a powerful thing, but they at times need to be checked. Like a double edged sword, they have the power to work against you just a much as for you.
Now, there are a couple of themes that tend rear their head sooner than later, and I have learned over time to listen for them rustling in the grass of conversation. Although these are not the only ones that I have found to be problematic, they are the most common.
They would be…
“What does not kill you, makes you stronger”
“It just needs time”
“This should not be this hard”
“This should not take this long”
So what is the problem with these expectations…or these ideals we could even call them.
Well the thing is, all four of these statements are simply not true.
How so? Well..
What does not kill you absolutely does not always make you stronger. In fact, sometimes what does not kill you just roughs you up beyond all recognition, and other times it leaves you so dazed and confused you have no clear idea where to go or what to do next.
I believe they call this trauma.
So if it not the pulverizing that makes us stronger, what exactly does?
It is not the strenuous event that makes a muscle, movement or person stronger… both it and they become stronger in the time that they are allowed to recover and adapt.
The same process that creates a blister, can also create a callus.
With that, the same process that strains a muscle to the point of injury, can also help it become stronger.
The difference in both situations is just that the one that worked out challenged the tissue only up to the point that it could just barely handle.
No more, otherwise the tissue would fail.
No less, otherwise it would not motivate the body to adapt.
If this seems like a bit of a goldilocks situation you would not be wrong… but so is the right amount of salt, and despite such a thing being hard to pin down we all know it when we taste it.
So no…more is not better, harder is not better, longer is not better.
Better is better, and best is best.
The challenge is you just have to know what better and best actually is…
But before we get to that… what about the second statement, the often said with a sigh “it just needs time“.
Well, while just like the sentimental misunderstanding that “time heals all wounds“, time cannot be counted on to do the thing you may want it to.
Unfortunately time does not heal all wounds… plenty of them become infected or bleed out entirely. Time will absolutely march on, but it is not guaranteed to march in the direction of our favor… achieving that always requires our active involvement.
Perhaps a better saying to replace the whole time thing would be “Nothing changes if nothing changes“.
Said another way…you may have to learn to paddle your boat if you want the river of time to bring you to any specific place.
And this brings us to those last two expectations…those two statements about “This should not be so hard” or “This should not take so long“.
When this statement comes up I have a tendency to put on that fatherly face that seems to be passed down through the ages and share this sage bit of insight…
There is a very reliable way to know whether something should or should not be…
If it is.
So to put it all together, it is best to always check our expectations with the reality that is all around us. After all, success leaves a trail…regardless of the endeavor.
Specific to our bodies, and what we can physically do there is no better example of how to check our expectations than to understand what strong is. After all, it is the basis for your flexibility, your endurance and your steadiness.
So what is strong? Well, may we look to the strong folks for example…
To be strong is simply to strain well.
It is dignity under duress.
You have to give a damn, but have some humility about it.
If you apply that image to any movement or endeavor then what ideal form for any activity would be fairly clear.
And getting stronger, regardless of how you are measuring or expressing it, is no different than learning to play an instrument or a foreign language.
You need to learn the basics first, and with the ideal that you are aiming for.
Once you are able to grasp that though, it is mainly a rep dependent process.
And whether we like it or not, strength is gained at its own pace.
That is just how it goes.
You cannot control how many reps, or how long the process may be.
You have to do the reps, and you have to give your body the time it needs to adapt.
So the formula is simple…
Do the work, and it must be work… it must be hard…and do it well.
Do it in a pace that allows you to do it well.
Do it a lot.
Do not ask how long you may have to do it for… just do it.
And then, if you do that, it will eventually get easier.
That is just how it goes.
If you would like guidance in working towards whatever goals you may have, know that I want to help.
Regardless, I hope you find the above helpful, and I hope you are comfortable, able and well.