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But I Only…

I spend an inordinate amount of time studying human behavior and psychology. More accurately, it’s fair to say I obsess over it. It’s a fascinating way to help me understand the motivations behind why we do the things that we do. I do this because I believe that it helps me impact more people in a lasting way.

Much of my career as a coach has been spent communicating with others and my intention is to always seek first to understand so that I can best serve whomever I’m talking with. Another part of my learning comes from just watching interactions amongst others, whether its coaches talking with members or members talking with other members.

Body language, voice inflections, and tone all help paint a relatively clear picture of someone’s thoughts and feelings, but I’m also a big believer that words matter a whole bunch too. Yes, how you say something matters immensely, but so does what you say.

With that said, one of the phrases that I’m trying to rid the world of is:

“But I only…”

As a coach, I hear it when members finish a workout and feel that their effort isn’t worthy compared to someone who:

  • finished faster,
  • or lifted more weight,
  • or did more rounds,
  • or did a more complex movement,
  • or hasn’t missed a day in the last month,
  • or…or…or…or…

It’s also something heard when you consider your result on the present day relative to what you did in recent (or distant) memory, reminiscing the days when you:

  • Used to lift more
  • Used to be faster
  • Used to have [insert movement here]
  • Used to have more cardio

I wrote about this at length last year, but comparison really is ‘The Thief of Joy,’ and that’s what is at the heart of the ‘But I only…’ phrase. Comparison to others as well as yourself. The words you tell yourself matter, a lot. So much so that Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu has something to say about their power:

“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

A final note for the parents among us: pay attention to what you say about your own accomplishments, because you never know who you are influencing. If you find your kids saying the ‘But I only…’ phrase (or some iteration of it), let me hit you with an uncomfortable truth: they’re learning that from whomever has the greatest influence over them.

Join me and commit to helping rid the world of the ‘But I Only…’ All you gotta do is rid it from your vocabulary.

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