05 Oct 2022

OPINION: Comparisons with what people are doing on social media should not exist

Tipperary Tipperary Tipperary

What do you think?

I think many will agree that exercise is great for our mental health. I would add to that and say that yes while it is great, I suggest that there is a harshness that exists along with it.

For example, the internal dialogue of “I have to do this” or “if I don’t do this I will be overweight”. I would suggest that we find a source of exercise that inspires, motivates and excites us all at the same time!

I think that this is done by choosing a gentle form of exercise or something that is well within your capability.

In a sense, you set the bar at an achievable level so that you are not left disappointed when you set the bar too high and don’t achieve your goal.

If you choose something you know you can achieve quiet easily eg. walking for five minutes or maybe even less, will be your goal every day.

A comparison between what those are doing on social media or even friends should not exist. Always remember you are your own competition and this will set you up nicely.

I had a belief system for a long time that in order to lose weight, you must do strenuous exercise along with a balanced diet.

Even while I worked full-time as a personal trainer in a well-known gym, while we believed in and thought a balanced approach to our clients, I didn’t take this on board in my own life.

So I know that it’s not easy to quickly to change your thought patterns around exercise and often you will find there is a limiting narrative within your mind that exists.

The old critical voice of “I’m not enough” is what it normally boils down to. Often times, we have a negative mindset where we tell ourselves we don’t have the capability of doing something. This may often be down to conditioning in our lives from both society and through our environment - often when we are growing up or when we are children.

The temptation here is for me to say: “Well you are good enough, you are enough!” However, I have found, through coaching clients in the past, that it is not as simple as that as you can imagine, however it does start with a shift and that can be as instant as the flick of a switch! It could be as you read these words that you find yourself realising that you are good enough and even more so I would suggest that you are actually a hell of a lot more than “good enough”.

It has a negative tone of voice - “good enough” - doesn’t it? As if we are trying to fit into someone else’s idea of us.

It all begins with how we talk to ourselves and the good news is that it is impossible to have a positive and negative thought at the same time.

So take for example you have a thought that says “I am good enough”, instead of letting in the critical voice that says you’re not, in fact, you should use the momentum of such a thought and say: “Hell, I’m magnificent, I’m fantastic”. It is something that takes a bit of practice and once it becomes a habit and you change this internal dialogue and become the best version of yourself.

Going back to the exercise piece here, I would suggest that you set reasonable and realistic goals. As the old saying goes, don’t try to push the cart before the horse.

This is definitely the case with forming healthy habits and even thought patterns. The one word that springs to mind is gentle.

Ease yourself into this new lifestyle. It’s also exciting! Am I right!? Remember, age really is only a number and it is never too earl or too late to start with this new mindset that I am suggesting here.

It is something that I have seen work with my clients and something I teach on an ongoing basis so it’s worth, at least, having a think about.

So, a practical exercise you can have a think about this week and one change you can make is start to bring an awareness to the fact that there is in fact an internal dialogue going on in your mind. You become the observer. You start to take power and control back into your thought patterns.

Think of a time where you overcame a challenge. You will probably notice that you had the excellent capacity to bounce back but that there was also a little bit of a struggle involved too.

I invite you to draw from that experience where you showed resilience, courage and strength. We are in the middle of an unprecedented time at the moment and it feels almost insensitive to not comment on the current Covid-19 situation and lockdown until March.

I really do believe this is a great time, assuming your health is above board, to start to challenge and shift our thinking from the “I can’t” to the “I really can” attitude. Believe me, I am not a “positive thinker” or a new age philosopher! I am practical and I have used these tools myself and I have also seen them work for my clients .

Again, thank you for taking the time to have a read or skim through this article.

I welcome all enquiries as listed below.

Cathal O’Reilly is a self-improvement coach, advocate and writer.
He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from University College Cork and the National Qualification in Exercise, Health and Fitness. Cathal also has a certificate in Counselling and Psychotherapy.
To book a coaching consultation with Cathal today call 087-1724261 or email

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