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Challenge, don’t push

Saturday, January 30, 2021

I will say up front I refuse to use the Spark People emoticon “Keep Pushing.” I find it triggering and have wanted to explain why in a blog for a while now.

I tense up when a YouTube instructor uses those words as well. I get defensive and resistant. As a victim of severe childhood sexual abuse, I was forced to do things I hated so much, that were so horrifying, I dissociated. My mind simply shut down & went away to protect myself from the trauma. So *anything* that smacks of force or pressure to behave a certain way is anathema to me.

One of the first YouTube instructors I sometimes like—Jessica Smith—said something I really appreciated: “Challenge yourself, but always take care of yourself.” And BodyFit by Amy (a longtime favorite) has several phrases I find motivating: “You be where you are today”; “If you showed up today, you are successful”; “Listen to your body and do what you need to do.”

As Jessica urged, I do enjoy challenging myself. I modify like mad to stay low impact and protect joints, but there are days I relish working up a sweat and reaching that fatigue point. And there are other days I have to back off and stick with gentler workouts. Amy has some great beginner ones, Jessica has a soothing “Under the Weather” routine, and Keoni Tamayo is my latest YouTube gem with his walking workouts & hilarious kitty companions. (He’s had a few duds, but I enjoy most of them; be aware he has all nonverbal cuing.)

Some Sparkers have no trouble with the phrase “push yourself.” But if you are like me and have a negative reaction, consider substituting the verb “challenge” and see if that inspires you too. After all, the words we use in speaking to ourselves and others can have a powerful impact, so choose them wisely.

Blessed Be, Amanda
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • ROBEC4175
    I like "if you showed up today, you're successful." Thinking of you and Dora. emoticon
    98 days ago
    Amanda, I understand the trigger. Right now I'm struggling with getting things done. The keep pushing mentality and expression a couple of my friends tell.me , discourage me...almost implying I am not doing enough (I already feel that way) I know they mean well, yet it bothers me. Growing up I had to keep pushing to get through painful things I didn't want to do. My keep pushing put me into survival mode. I'm glad you shared the great perspective from Jessica. Very helpful. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and honesty. Bless you as you continue through your journey! emoticon
    99 days ago
    I don't have the same reaction, but totally understand what you're saying. The act of "pushing" is most often *against* something, and many of us don't have positive memories of trying to push something/someone away from us. I like your substitution of "challenge" or "open your horizons" or something like "keep reaching or keep stretching." Like JINLYNN says, it becomes a more positive perspective. Thanks for the blog! emoticon emoticon
    99 days ago
    I think of Challenge Yourself in a similar manner to "Open your horizons".
    99 days ago
    Thanks Amanda. I understand. A few years ago there was a song called Daddy's Hands which affected me badly and brought up memories I'd rather not have.
    We need to take care of ourselves in any way that helps.

    99 days ago
    Good idea to challenge oneself instead of push. I like that way of thinking. It is more positive than negative.
    99 days ago
  • no profile photo WEIRDO1103
    I'm newish here and had never really thought of the "push yourself" phrasing until now. If you're looking for another positive take care of yourself youtuber with lower impact, I recommend Yoga with Adriene.
    100 days ago
    I like the idea of challenge myself it sounds like I am going against myself instead of someone else. Thank you.
    100 days ago
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