WORKOUT: Aerobic 60
Full stretching routine
This motivation framework is very real to most people, yet more complex in its application (it weaves a messy web).
Attribution Theory (see that for thorough review)
Here, we direct our motivation with the “reasons” we give for our behavior/performance.
I use “reasons” here lightly, because in the context of not reaching our goals and being unmotivated
…the person is being totally unreasonable and irrational
… you and I would use the word ‘excuses’.
So let’s go:
Attributions can be Internal or External.
Attributions can be Controllable or Uncontrollable.
Attributions can be Stable or Unstable.
Now, that’s a lot of blah blah. See below
So let’s just look at the 4 main “reasons” people give, specifically with regard to not meeting fitness/diet goals.
Ability: “I have bad knees, I can’t do those lifts.” “I need to keep my blood sugar up, I can’t eat paleo”
Task: “It’s just too hard to workout with my schedule.” “Shopping for clean meats/veggies is too inconvenient.”
Effort: “I’d be leaner, I just don’t even try to eat healthy.” “I could pull more weight if I tried.”
Luck: “Too bad there’s no Whole Foods here, tough one.” “I wish there were better trainers around.”
You all get the picture of what this theory addresses, no?
Attribution theory gets way more complex, but you get the point.
People just throwing words at failure
…These “excuses” about the causes of the failure are so powerful in directing energy.
…And, oh boy, let the games begin; are people sophisticated at the Attribution game, or what?
Notice the pattern:
The “reasons” are either
…Internal (it’s a problem with me) or
…External (it’s a problem with the world)
More importantly, see how the person is working really hard to tell us that these things are UNCONTROLLABLE.
…It’s that uncontrollability that gets them off the hook.
…Why try if it won’t change!
…it’s my thyroid, knees, work, gym, Whole Foods,
…this person perfectly sets up the Attributions so they can fail and never have to even try.
Sinister, nasty business isn’t it?! Imagine living, working, being around that consistently?
People use these “words” to try to guide their motivation.
…In some ways, people have learned to use those words to manipulate the world.
… “Excuses” “blaming” “scapegoating” “self-handicapping”
…it’s all very unbecoming.
Unhealthy folks use manipulative attributions.
…When they succeed they might play helpless and invoke luck.
…When they fail, they may lash out and blame, or withdraw and over-internalize with name-calling.
This is the ultimate self-deceit theory. Excuses and blame.
Hey, sometimes, it’s true that our failure was due to external forces.
…If you want to try CrossFit and walk into a box where the coaches really suck and fail to teach you the foundation and proper form, then yes, your failure can be attributed to shitty coaching.
…Certainly, any possibility is possible.
…It’s ascertaining the true, honest attribution that gets dicey.
The unreasonable “reasons” people can give for failures can be destructive, deluded, and perverted from reality.
…In a way, the person is hoping for reasons to get out of trying harder in the future.
They think…”what can I say about this situation that will get me out of putting in more effort”
…what can I say about this failure that justifies not exercising?
…what can I say about this failure that justifies eating the Standard American Diet.
And on and on, the words just keep coming like a “river of shit.”
1) Make conscious attributions about exercise and diet success/failure.
2) Actually, identify what you are saying about your failures.
3) Evaluate those attributions.
…Are they accurate? Sensible?
…Do they help you modify behavior in the future, take responsibility?
…Could someone else interpret them as “excuses” “blaming”? How?
…Are they directed at controlling what you can control?
Not good: “Today’s workout sucked because the coach is a mindless, turd.”
(External, stable, uncontrollable: blaming the coach’s turdiness for failure)
Good: “Hey, you can’t polish a turd, and that’s fine. I didn’t ask how to scale the workout, and haven’t practiced that move enough. But I did well. And know what I’m going to do the next 2 weeks to avoid this situation and create a more positive one.”
Better: just find a new gym with a better coach.
4) Practice and maintain these healthy self-talk patterns.