Flexing my judgment muscle

Finally Friday, and I am so happy it is finally here. The weekend ahead is quite busy – wedding stuff tomorrow as well as lot of work-work. All billable, all good. Mostly I am just happy to be away from the work week and a particular new staffer who is stomping on my nerves at every possible opportunity. Thankfully I am not the only one and her tenure here will not be very much longer. I can outlast her.

I was at the gym this morning, pursuing practice and my List of the day. All about shoulders and side abs today, and for the most part it was fine. Shoulders, I find, are tricky, and this is a reasonably new list with some new-to-me exercises on it. I ended up lightening up on the dumbbells I was using, mostly from a lack of confidence about my ability to master a slightly heavier weight. And I do not feel disappointed or demoralized by the choice. I have listened carefully to trainer J explaining to me the various ways joints can be harmed and will always opt to protective my limbs when I’m not sure. Still, I had a very good practice in that I enjoyed it enormously and feel very satisfied with the work done.

The batshit crazy member was back this morning as I was starting the last series of exercises on my List. I had not seen him all week and was secretly hoping he had taking only a temporary membership and decided my gym was not for him, but alas, he was back this morning, running around my little practice room, climbing all over the TRX frame, and talking to himself. New behavior alert, though: he was blindfolding himself and doing kicks and punches and the like across the room. Since the TRX frame was right there in the middle of the path he was crossing, I was imagining the worst and either his foot or fist solidly connecting with the metal frame. I finished my sets and got out of there before disaster could strike right in front of me.

I almost feel badly about characterizing this guy as the “batshit crazy member” at the gym. Almost. He is kind of invasive and makes it impossible for me to tune him out completely. My stuff, but it gives me a bit of a pass on my ability to be a judgey in my own mind and label him however unflatteringly as I wish.

Which brings me to the meat and potatoes of this post.

While many of you reading only know me as a blogger, I assert that in life I am a compassionate and mostly kind person. I do try hard to not be harsh or judgmental to others, because it makes me feel badly about how I judge myself and from there it’s not all that difficult to imagine others seeing all my flaws in the worst possible light. Even with negative girl mostly squirreled away in her box, I am realistic about my imperfections as a human being. I try to minimize or squash them when appropriate. I also try very hard to be accepting and inclusive with those I associate with and adopt as friends and into my tribe. My village of experts have taught me more than they will ever realize about patience and tolerance.

However, I have mysterious limits to when my tolerance and my sort of personalized compassion runs out. I think it is the point where someone refuses to take reasonable care of themselves, and I find myself disconnected and justifying it by that if they do not care about what happens to them, why would or should I care as well?

I genuinely hate this quality about myself. Self-protections built in from childhood that make it a difficult pattern to undo.

This is where I start flexing my judgment muscle. What constitutes “reasonable” care? Right now I am feeling the need to spend some quality time in TM’s office again, because I am distancing myself from others who minimize to sabotage my better health goals. However, I also find myself feeling angry and upset by others who have serious issues arise in their own health and ignore them or refuse to address them appropriately. How am I supposed to continue to give a shit about them when it is becoming more and more obvious to me that they do not give a shit about themselves?

Part of me has considered that they may be addicted to the drama that ignoring a health issue could mushroom into a far more serious, life-altering medical condition. Or the rush that comes from being so very close to the edge of Very Bad Things and escaping before it crossed that line. I also understand the complications of depression and other mental/emotional health conditions that complicate or compromise one’s ability to take appropriate steps to care for themselves. All that said, I am a person of limitations; I do not have infinite wells of energy, patience, and compassion. My tolerance for drama does have its own inexplicable boundaries. While I truly wish I were someone overwhelmingly limitless and generous in spirit and empathy, I am a mere mortal and do the best I can with what I have to work with.

A couple of recent events have me contemplating a return to TM’s office to help me figure out why I am so angry about other people’s shortcomings with their overall health, life, lifestyle. I have plenty of my own issues to juggle and manage without expending pointless negative energy that someone else is being stupid and not taking better care. Is it because I care so much? Or is it something more sinister, like my own codependence flaring and desiring to control other people’s behavior? Either way, the only solution available to me right now is to take a step back and hope for some better, more rational perspective.

Sometimes it seems the healthier I get the less tolerance I have for other people and their inability or unwillingness to care for themselves. I did it for too many years and have always accepted my fate is in my own hands, likely an early death and diminished or compromised life and lifestyle for the time I did have available to me. Part of me was simply numb to the idea of dying younger than needed, and part of me was lazy and did not want to do the work, take the steps to improve my overall quality of life. Part of me still feels lazy and does not want to do the work, otherwise my ongoing struggles to ensure I eat well would not be a weekly issue that I am consciously working at and trying to find my groove. And if it were easy, there would probably be a lot less obesity.

Speaking of obesity, sadly it is only August 19 and many have fallen away from our August challenge (30 minutes of dedicated cardio for 20 of 31 days). For sure, I know the friend I partnered with on this quest is still plugging away at it, as is my daughter. So out of 38 paid participants, we are the only 3 I know of who are on track to succeed, compared with at least 15 who have conceded or given up. I need only 2 more days, C and my friend only 1 each, and they are now encouraging each other for 31 days straight. I am enormously proud of both of them.

But maybe I will be surprised. Maybe the other 23 participants are slogging through their 30 minutes every day the same ways I am – walking at lunch with associates. Or slogging away on the dreadmill at the gym after my practices. Or going for a walk with M after dinner. Other than the dreadmill (and I have only had to resort to that a few times), it has been a very pleasant challenge for me.

This is a Very Big Deal in the win column for me. My friend, my daughter have both struggled with trying to get up and off the couch, make time for exercise of any sort. I try to contain my enthusiasm in real life conversation about my evolving exercise and eating habits (which is why I show zero restraint here), and it is so nice to talk openly with others (here and in real life) about trying to make positive changes to our lifestyles.

The last year I have found myself having to prune away at branches of my friendship tree, because while I respect free will and everyone’s right to choose the way they live their lives, sometimes it impacts others, including me. If you’re choosing to make poor choices that compromise your health, please do not complain about it or state your desires for different outcomes yet be unwilling to make the sacrifices and changes necessary to influence those outcomes. Maybe it just hits so close to home with M and his resignation to what our life together as we age would be like. I heard him when we would talk about it, and I did not always fully appreciate his attempts to help me make better choices, but looking back at it now I was not prepared to really hear him when it would come up.

I am definitely listening to and hearing him now, and we are both a lot happier thinking about our future older and grayer years.

4 thoughts on “Flexing my judgment muscle

  1. I can relate to your feelings about others and what they’re doing or not doing to help themselves. Ive seen lots of friends and family over the years do this and there’s only so much empathy to be had for people. At some point that tank becomes empty and it’s like talking to a wall. A current friend of mine drives me nuts about her health issues to the point where I don’t even respond anymore because she refuses to help herself.

    • Exactly! It’s so hard sometimes to find that balance. And speaking of health – foot any better or still giving you a lot of pain and grief? Two of our friends are suffering from plantar fasciitis and hobbling about when they wish they were out running.

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