My Extra Gym Workout
Posted on 10th April 2017 at 15:32
If I’d had a camera following me around yesterday morning, I suspect that by now I would be trending on social media under the category of ‘spectacular falls’.
You see yesterday morning I fell off the treadmill in the gym. For a second or two I lost my concentration and the next thing I knew I was on the floor at the end of the machine.
I was embarrassed, my heart was racing and my face was bright red; I felt very foolish . . .
My immediate thoughts were, “I’m so stupid! People will think I’m such an idiot. Leave now!”. And, for a short while I considered leaving and never returning.
However, those thoughts were all products of my imagination. Yes, they were my thoughts but they were totally inaccurate. The reality was that people leapt into action, picked me up off the floor and enquired as to my health. I was fine. My ego was more bruised than my body. Even though everyone in the gym was helpful a little voice in my head still suggested that leaving would be the sensible thing to do. Why was that given what I could plainly see?
The answer is because my threat system had been activated and very quickly it highlighted to me all the potential ‘dangers’ of my situation eg embarrassment and social humiliation.
Thoughts are pesky things. They come unbidden very quickly and because they are generally accompanied by emotions and physical sensations we believe them because we feel them. I certainly felt foolish therefore I was foolish. Right? Wrong!
Very often, particularly when we are depressed or anxious, our threat system will spot life’s ‘dangers’ more easily resulting in a stream of unhelpful thinking. We start to believe those thoughts which in turn results in us feeling more depressed and anxious.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) seeks to redress the balance by learning to spot when we are thinking; working out what we are feeling and thinking; then working out if there is an alternative point of view. CBT isn’t about stopping unhelpful thinking – that would be impossible but we can learn to manage our thinking in a more helpful way.
In the gym I had to work very hard at catching my thoughts; recognise them as such; look for alternative evidence and then, warmly and gently remind myself that actually people had been very kind and helpful. The only person who had called me an idiot was me. Working on my thinking wasn’t easy but it enabled me to recognise that my ‘hot thoughts’ about being viewed as an idiot were unfounded and that I should stay and finish my workout.
Not only did my body get a work out yesterday but so did my thinking. CBT - gym for the mind.
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