Most of the time not only are we our own worst enemies, but we are our own worst critics. I read somewhere recently that almost everyone suffers from the “not enoughness” disease. I’m not going to lie – it makes me feel good to know I’m not the only one!
This got me to thinking about how hard we are on ourselves about running. I know that to train well and to be disciplined, one needs a certain amount of self-critiquing. If we don’t assess our weaknesses and work to improve them, then how do we evolve? But, I am here to say that there is a fine, yet very definite, line between critiquing yourself productively and beating yourself up. Using productive criticism feels like growth, encouragement and progress. Beating yourself up feels negativity, failure and constriction.
So, how do we do it? How do we lighten up on ourselves, yet still expect the best?
1. The Grass Is Not Greener. I say this all of the time and you are probably sick of hearing it, but don’t compare yourself to others. Your internal dialogue should not say, “Oh, I’m a loser. I don’t run as fast or as far as ___________. What is wrong with me?” You should instead be saying, “Okay, I’m not running the paces I was at this time last year. What’s changed? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I running with a potential injury? Am I over trained or stressed about something? How can I be healthier?”
2. Reframe It. Remember what you are doing right. It is so incredibly easy to focus on our shortcomings - that we didn’t PR in that last race, or that we did too much and got injured. Just when you want to berate yourself for being less than, is probably exactly when you need to build yourself up for being enough. Remember all of the times you got up early to fit in a run before you had to make breakfast for the kids and start your workday. Give yourself credit for all of the times you got out to run when it was 10 degrees and all you wanted to do was stay in bed. Most of all, view every single time that you pushed yourself, every time that you made a run happen, as a success. Focus on what you do right, not on how you are falling short.
3. Lighten Up. Stop taking yourself so damn seriously. Laugh in the face of imperfection. We get so focused, so set on what has to happen, that we forget to just be present. In just one day I can tell you at least five things that I inadvertently do that are hilariously imperfect. I fall down stairs. I trip over roots on the trail. I blow a snot rocket and it lands on my sleeve. I fart during a massage. I mean, if I took myself ultra-seriously I’d have to to be medicated 24 hours a day just to survive.
4. Surrender. This is so cliché, but letting go really does work. This doesn’t mean that you give up caring or trying or setting goals. It does mean that you stop resisting everything. Have you ever heard the expression, “what you resists, persists?” It’s almost like the more that we wish something different, the more energy we give to it and the more it shows up in our lives. Let go of the fact you are injured or a slower runner than you’d like to be or five pounds overweight. Stop thinking about it all day long. Acknowledge it, accept it and set an intention to change it.
5. Be Vulnerable. Have the courage to not be perfect and show this side to others. What makes you human, what makes you relatable to others, is that you are not afraid to share your struggles and challenges. This does not mean that you have a pity party or play the victim all day long. Instead, let people in when life gets hard for you. Don’t be afraid to say you get discouraged with your running sometimes. Don’t be afraid to say you wish you weren’t getting older and slower. Chances are if you open up and share this, someone will share something right back. Connecting with others this way builds us up and gives us permission to go easier on ourselves. Because good friends remind you that you are enough and if you hear that enough times you might start to believe it. Need more help? Read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.
The bottom line is that we are much harder on ourselves than anyone else is on us. I would never talk to a good friend the way I talk to myself. That’s crap. In order to be our best selves, we need to build ourselves up, not break ourselves down.
How do you regularly beat yourself up and how are you going to stop it?
What did you do today to treat yourself well? I had a long and “vulnerable” conversation with a good friend.