My downfall has been thinking too much about BJJ and the gym. No, not walking through moves or strategizing, but the self talk that comes before class. It’s especially bad in the mornings:

Well, it’s 7:30 and I’m up. I could go to the gym in 30 minutes and then be in time for the 11am class. But I don’t really want to get up. I can always go to the later class. I could just stay here and watch this tv show or work on my cross stitch/book/blog.

Then I realize it’s 1pm and a similar dialog starts up about the evening classes. My inner voice does not want me to go to the class. I am convinced it is trying to sabotage me. Here is what else it has been saying to me this week:

  • You totally deserve that muffin. It would taste so good with coffee.
  • You haven’t had candy in so long. You should totally buy that.
  • Oh my god – waffles. They taste so totally good. Get them now.
  • A panini! You haven’t had bread in at least a few days! Indulge!
  • I don’t WANT to get up. I want to sleep more!
  • I’m so tired. Let’s take a nap.
  • The gym? But it’s so hot outside. Let’s stay inside where it’s air conditioned!
  • Your ankle is at the point where you could do too much and reinjure it. You’d totally better stay home.
  • Oh god – it’s nogi tonight. I totally don’t like how they all sweat on me. We’ll just go tomorrow.

Here’s what I’ve realized about my inner voice. I’m going to call her Sally.

  1. Sally is a shut in and is always happier at home.
  2. Sally values the way food tastes more than anything.
  3. Sally is super lazy and would always choose to be in bed.
  4. Sally loves being on the Internet and doing nothing.
  5. Sally says totally too much.
  6. Sally is trying to sabotage me.

Hmmm. Maybe Sally is actually a toddler throwing a tantrum in a store – I WANT MUFFINS NOW!!!! I WILL SCREAM IF YOU DON’T GIVE ME MUFFINS!

Would you like to meet Sally? Here she is:

Sally’s plans always seem to be better than mine – sweating, eating boiled chicken, and picking up things that clearly should stay on the ground.

I don’t like Sally very much. Mostly because her plans are always more appealing than mine, her food tastes better, and she’s flat out better at debate. [geek speak] My will save vs Sally sucks.

I read an interesting article that blew my mind a bit. It’s called “How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off“. This was the section that really hit me:

[When I wake up in the morning] there’s no voice inside my head debating what I should do.  It’s not even a positive voice this time — it’s just not there.  The whole thing happens on autopilot, even before I feel fully awake mentally.  I can’t say it requires any self-discipline to do this every morning because it’s a totally conditioned response.  It’s like my conscious mind is just along for the ride while my subconscious controls my body.

He says that you shouldn’t use WILLPOWER to get up, or go to the gym, but instead, create habits – routines, and shut off that inner voice. If you know Sally is going to debate you, bypass her. Create rituals and practice them every single day. KNOW that you are going to lose that debate and start practicing. For example, I do this now when I take a nap – I set the alarm and as soon as it goes off I sit up. This week I’ve consistently gotten up at 7:30am, even though I’ve had the entire week off. And I’ve gotten up immediately.

So my plan is to set my schedule and follow it. When I put it in my calendar it is in stone. Know that Sally will belabor the point and want to stay home and eat muffins and black coffee while watching Picket Fences, but that time should be scheduled rather than talked into.

One of those habits is setting daily physical activities – 7 days  per week. If I don’t go to the gym or jiu jitsu – minimally I am going for a walk. Ideally I would love to have a wakeup time at 6am and be at the gym by 6:30am, then go to work. That would be freaking amazing. I just need to stop talking to Sally.

So – tell me about your inner voice. Is it trying to sabotage you or help you? Describe your inner voice and what struggles do you have with it?