What is it that drives you to get up and put on your shoes, step out into the cold dark early morning and run? Why run at all?
You are committed. You brook no argument and battle through procrastination. Raining? No problem. Too early, late?.. nice try. You look at ‘excuses’ and turn them into ‘challenges’. You put in enough workouts where you forced yourself out the door that they gain their own momentum – “I haven’t missed a workout in three months.. I’m not going to miss one now!”. You surround yourself, truly immerse yourself with positive reinforcement, accountability and comeraderie. You reach out to others who share your passion whether it be social media, clubs or friends and family.
And you run while everyone is watching you.
And believe me, they are listening to you and they are definitely watching you. As they watch you transform, a dull ache of desire for their own transformation awakens. The “I should workout” paddle, becomes an “I really should workout!” carrot. Then they workout and sweat for the first time since High-School and somewhere in the middle of one of those early workouts they have an ephiphone, “I’m working out!” and the carrot tastes great, “I’m really fucking doing this!”. And others are listening and others are definitely watching…
And people say things to you. Really nice things. Sometimes, not-nice things spoken behind a mask of genuine concern or good will. Someone once told me, when I had dropped thirty-five pounds that I looked ‘unhealthy and emaciated’. She was really concerned. Another person got upset that I was on a ‘Fad’ diet. Not outright negativity, and usually coupled with kind words as well but certainly not cheering me on and congratulating me on my accomplishments – just balancing out the things they really want to say with polite society. Their comments obviously stuck with me because that’s what I remember and that’s what negativity does – it sticks with you. However, on the other side of this, I had many more people saying nothing but positive things to me; all of which was unsolicited and very flattering to hear. “Look great”, “Good job”, “Can’t believe how much you’ve changed – it’s fantastic!”; Quite the shot to my ego, I can tell you. And we measure ourselves and our progress by the things others say about us. And we measure ourselves and our progress by the accomplishments of others. And we rarely forget. Hopefully, we learn to measure ourselves against our yesterdays. And while we still don’t forget, we just might forgive and learn to keep looking ahead.
And sometimes, when someone says something about you that makes you want to weep; they tell you something that makes you sound the way you wish you were – it’s hard to absorb. Harder to take in than criticism, even. I actually do want to be good, kind and loving. It feels good to be kind to someone, to bring sincerity and full-attention to the things others are dealing with. It matters to me when others treat me this way – it only makes sense that our shared humanity would have this in common. But, for a lot of us, we aren’t allowed to believe good things about ourselves. Despite holding others in high-esteem, we seldom allow ourselves the same honor. We limit ourselves. We refuse to believe that this description could be about us; ‘if they only knew this or saw that’ we protest, ‘then they wouldn’t think so highly of me’.
But here’s the thing, YOU don’t always get to be right. Just because you have insider information doesn’t mean everyone else is wrong or that they just don’t get you. Maybe they get you more than you get yourself. Maybe you should listen to the positive voices in your life and ignore the negative voices in your head or from your past – those latter voices aren’t doing you any favors. Honestly, ask yourself, “How’s that working out for you?” when listening to the stream of negativity. The answer is fairly obvious – you are exactly where you have always been. What if they’re right after all?
Start listening to positive things. Push away those things that feed a negative self-image; those predators of the past and regurgitated regrets. Therein lies happiness and joy, I think. As you begin to accept that you are worth-while, a good person and boundless, over-flowing, your own capacity to treat others with kindness and love will grow and you will learn how to make them sound the way they wish they were. It’s an incredibly touching moment for everyone involved.
A negative idea or way of thinking will sink you during a long run. This is one of the challenges of running, for me. Holding on to that light, bright thread of positive energy, no matter how thin a thing it might be, that thought that I can still smile in the face of pain and agony. That I can hold on to joy in the cacophony of self-doubt, guilt and regret? A mantra of feeling good in my legs, strong and powerful. Look! I can persevere!
We can all do amazing things, wondrous things. But first, we have to begin by believing those things we refuse to believe. You are good people. Kind people and strong. You deserve good things in your life and good friends. You are worth-while and deserve to be taken care of in your body and in your relationships; in your life. You have a beautiful smile. You can forgive yourself.
You have to stop refusing these good things in your life. Imagine what you might do, if you could only do this? ..if you had no fear? ..if you truly loved yourself? ..if you forgive yourself? ..if you stopped making excuses for why you don’t deserve the life you always wanted.
Not terribly heavy on my usual fitness or running theme, but I really had to share this as it is something I seem to be going through a great deal lately. Accepting myself is and always has been a huge challenge to me, as I suppose it is to all of us, so, one might imagine the difficulty I had when reading something incredibly kind and wonderful from a good friend about what she saw in me. Still I buck and prance about in protest – the wild beast refusing to be saddled and bridled. Following this, my wife with hands-on-hips, rails against that negative voice within me and drives home the exile I have imposed on myself. That now, it’s time to come home and claim my birth-right. How did I ever get so lucky?
So lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. So, an early New Years Resolution for all of you – you heard it here first; whatever changes you might have seen from me in this past year and a half – I promise you many more going forward into 2014.
My fears make themselves known,
and I know them and where they lay.
They know that I am coming
And now my fears are all afraid.