My daughters know it’s called “tough love”. It’s when somebody genuinely loves you and yet they PUSH you, gently but firmly, straight into the situation that you are avoiding, all for your best interests, for your personal growth. Nothing illustrates this better than recalling the day my daughter Erin learned to ride her 2-wheel bike, without training wheels. Erin wanted to learn to ride more than anything, but she was afraid. My husband Peter took her out to our quiet street, just like Dad’s all around the world do. He firmly grasped the back of the seat of her purple Trex bike, providing balance while Erin got on and dared to pick her feet up off the ground and position them on the pedals. Then he said, “Pedal Erin” ….and the three of them (Erin, Peter and the bike) began to move down the street. They were nervous and a little scared, but also exhilarated. If left up to Erin, they would not be out there. Her fear would have won the day, and instead that little purple bike would collect dust in the garage. But Peter stood ready to provide a good old-fashioned dose of “tough love”. In her best interests, Peter forced Erin to face her fears, and to overcome it. Before long, she was on that bike, pedalling her little heart out, moving down the street like a bird taking flight. Sure, there were some scary, wiggly moments, even a scrape or two. But years later, all that would be forgotten. You couldn’t tell by looking at her now that Erin ever “didn’t know how to ride that bike.”
Learning to ride was a challenge; One that Erin feared, but one that we (her parents) knew she could overcome. Learning to ride was Hard. But again, we (her parents) knew that Erin could rise to the occasion and that riding would never feel as hard as it would feel that day, at the beginning. I believe it takes a huge heart, and an enormous amount of love to look at your children, and muster the strength to say ” Yes, it’s going to be HARD, now get over it, and just Do it.” Look, I’m not a Tiger Mom. There’s are no hours of forced piano playing going on at my house. But there have been times, as a parent, where I had to get “right with myself” and realize that the best thing I could do for my daughters might be to teach them that something Hard was always worth doing. And that once you have mastered something Hard, that nothing would feel better than that.
[Smiling — I bet you see where this is going, right?]
When you have spent your life sedentary, nothing, Nothing, NOTHING feels harder than getting off the couch, and starting to move. Believe me, I get it. When I got off the couch at 277.2 pounds and started walking…it was a heavy burden I was carrying around the neighborhood. On top of the pounds of physical weight, I was also carrying years and years of doubt and failure, and heaps and bundles of the worst self-thoughts a person could imagine. It was beyond Hard. It felt Impossible. Dare I say it? It felt Hopeless. How the hell is somebody supposed to muster the energy to do this with THAT heavy a burden to carry down the street with you? Well, all I can say is how it went for me. I wasn’t struck with any magical powers. I didn’t have any secret weapons. What I did do was 2 critical things:
First, I forgave myself for letting myself get in such bad shape. I mean, I really really forgave myself. With the same amount of love and compassion I would have given to my best friend. The forgiveness helped to lighten my emotional load. I started to believe that maybe I wasn’t a hopeless mess. Maybe I could begin to believe that about my self. That would be a tremendous gift to Me.
The second thing I did was make the choice to give myself some tough love. So what if walking is Hard. Yes, it’s Hard, now get over it Diane– and get out there and Do it! [That was the Tough part — Now here comes the Love Part. ] “Believe Diane — Believe that it will Never Feel as HARD as it does Right Now. “ Are you asking, what the hell does that mean? And how does that help? Well, I’ve told myself this one sentence at the beginning of ever HARD walk, bike ride, or run I have ever done. “Diane, It will Never Feel as HARD as it does Right Now.” What that means to me is this little convincing idea — “Diane, just do this today….and tomorrow it will feel easier. Believe that.” I can’t tell you how many times those words, that simple thought, helped me get through that one walk, that one bike ride, that one run. It helped me Just Do It everyday — which turned out to be the secret to everything.
Ciao for now….Diane