Good morning, everybody, and welcome to today’s episode of The Work Of Becoming podcast where I want to talk about doing hard things when I am tired. So, as always, I’m gonna start with a story.
Recently, my dog had a little accident. So he was at the dog park, and he got excited, and he ran into a tree. He had some lacerations on his down there regions, and so, we had to take him to the emergency vet. Luckily, he’s totally fine, but they did give him a cone so that he wouldn’t lick that area. Zoom, my dog, when he’s in a cone, he can’t sleep very well. And so, what he does is he decides at 1:30 or 2:00 AM when he’s bored that if he’s bored everybody else needs to be awake and bored with him. So he will scratch at the door. He will walk around. He will essentially wake us up and try to get us to play with him. He thinks it’s playtime at 2:00 AM.
And so, for the last week, I have had disrupted sleep and I have been pretty tired throughout the day. I’ve also been waking up a little earlier, trying to get on that schedule, so that’s contributed as well. One of the things I’ve noticed that I talked to my coach about was that I opted for more walks and yoga this week rather than going to the gym because I kept telling myself I was tired. There were other things that happened too, like I told myself one night, “Oh, I’m not gonna clean the kitchen before I go to bed,” which is one of my Core Four habits. “I’m just gonna go to bed because I’m just so tired.”
On one hand, I totally believe that we should rest when our body needs to rest. If you are sick, if you are really exhausted, if you’re dealing with chronic illness, by all means rest, be tired, respect that. But for me personally, I tend to baby myself a little bit when I don’t get perfect sleep. If I don’t get my perfect eight hours, then I actually use my own knowledge against myself, and I’m like, “Oh, well, I can’t self-regulate because I didn’t get good sleep, and so, I’m just not gonna try to do this today,” or “I’m not gonna try to do a workout today.” I use sleep as a reason to not challenge myself in my own behavior. I did not stick to the things that actually make me sleep better and feel good.
I was thinking about this recently because someday I want to have a baby. This is not a now thing. To be clear, everybody, I am not pregnant. But that is on the list of things that I would like to do in life, and I thought to myself this week if I derail my whole day when I get disrupted sleep, then quite honestly, when I have a baby, I’m screwed. What I am doing by telling myself, “Oh, I don’t have to clean the kitchen when I’m tired. I don’t have to workout when I’m tired. I don’t have to do hard things when I’m tired,” what I am doing when I’m telling myself those things is I am setting a precedent that being slightly tired, having a little bit of wacky sleep, being up an hour during the night, I am letting myself out of the behaviors that make me feel best because of that. That is actually not self-compassionate at all. That is not me taking care of myself. That is not me treating myself with kindness.
And so, one of the things we work on in coaching with our clients is when we identify a pattern we want to change, then we figure out what we want that pattern to look like. This is a scientific approach that involves shifting an avoidance focus of what I don’t want into an approach focus of this is what I do want.
And so, what I worked with my coach on was developing the thought of, “I can do hard things when I’m tired.” I want to believe I can do hard things when I’m tired because if I believe that, then next time I am challenged with a hard thing and I am feeling tired, that belief will kick in, and that belief will allow me to go to the gym or take the walk or clean the kitchen or walk the dog or whatever it might be, even though I am tired. Versus right now the belief I have within me is something along the lines of, “If I don’t get good sleep, I fall apart.” I don’t want that to be a belief I have about myself.
So then you’re gonna ask me, “Karin, how are you changing this belief?” Belief changing is a long process. There are a lot of scientific approaches you could take to it. This is something that we only do in Alliance Coaching because it is so individual, but the basic process is that you find out what you want to believe, and then you work on embodying that even if you don’t believe it immediately, even if it doesn’t feel true. So what I am doing right now is I am gathering evidence that the thought of I can do hard things when I’m tired is true.
So two days ago, I was really tired, and I told myself, “You know what? I’m gonna go to the gym, and I’m gonna do my lift anyway. I am trying to hit a heavy one-rep max today, and that’s okay. And if I can’t do it because my body is too tired, that’s okay, but at least let me give myself the chance to build the evidence that I can.” And so, I went to the gym, and I actually PR-ed my squat by 15 pounds while I was tired.
So now, you see what that’s doing is all of a sudden, look at that! I have this one very strong piece of evidence of my new belief, and so, it starts to feel five percent more comfortable. And then next week maybe I’m gonna be really tired, and I’m gonna choose to clean the kitchen anyway, and that’s gonna build that confidence. Eventually, over time, I’m going to fully believe the new thing, and that belief is going to influence my behavior.
So that’s what I wanted to talk about today. I wanted to talk about the fact that if you are the type of person and you feel like your behavior falls apart when you’re tired, yes, there is some truth to the fact that self-regulation drops and we need to be compassionate and we need to give ourselves grace in those moments, but what do you want to believe about your abilities when you are tired? What do you want to believe about your behavior when you are tired? What precedent do you want to set for the future? Think about that this week, and I will see you in the next episode!