One of the blessings of being a personal trainer is that I get to ask people to do challenging things, and, then I get to be with them while they’re doing something really crazy difficult and… are likely cursing me out because of it. I get to be a cheerleader and to help people see that they are often capable of far more than they realize.
The flip side of witnessing these transformative moments is witnessing the negative self-talk that often goes hand in hand. The voices that say: I suck, I’m too fat, I’m uncoordinated, I don’t know how to do this. We all struggle to one degree or another with these internal voices. Really, all of us do.
My own negative self-talk appears daily. This morning, I went for a run, and the script in my head went something like this: How could you call yourself a running coach? You’re barely slugging along! Look, there are small children and old men passing you! What are you even doing out here? It’s cold! You should just go home and go back to bed.
What does negative self talk serve? Why are we often meaner to ourselves than we are to our best friends? If we convince ourselves that we can’t do x or y activity, then we don’t have to face the possibility of failure. If we minimize our capabilities, we can write ourselves off as being “less than,” rather than having to compete with others. If we put ourselves down, we protect ourselves from taking risks. Risks can be really really scary! But, they can also bring us to new places. What if we could show our own skills and talents without measuring them up to other people’s? (I know! So much easier said than done).
But, you know what we all also have? Those moments when we look in the mirror and think “I look good today!” “I’m a badass.” “People like me.” “Oh my god, I can do ____ activity that I couldn’t do before!” Maybe they’re fleeting moments, but they exist. How can we draw them out in ourselves, in each other?
This week, in the Beginners’ Running Group, we talked about mantras. A mantra is a short, simple phrase you can repeat to yourself over and over when the going gets tough (or, even before the going gets tough). It is a projection of your best self: the side of yourself that looks in the mirror and thinks “I’m awesome, I’m hot, I’m a badass!”
When we start to feel slow or sluggish out there running for three miles, or doing any type of difficult activity, a useful mantra could be something like:
“I can do this!”
“I’m out here working hard!”
“Strong, focused, energized, relaxed”
“Look up and smile”
“I have all the skills within me to complete this”
One of my favorite parts of my job is seeing how each person has their own unique grit and determination, just like everyone comes up with a different mantra. Have you ever used a mantra? What have you found helpful?
A bunch of us are going to be running a 5K on Sunday November 3rd in Golden Gate Park. Come cheer us on! Either in person, or in spirit 🙂
Here’s hoping you, too, find a moment where you feel like a badass today!