I was thinking about this today, after reviewing pictures and a video of myself running. In my mind, I’m as graceful as Zola Budd or Haile Gebreselassie, smoothly gliding down the road with style and speed.
The reality is totally different. I actually look like a middle-aged woman labouring to manage something faster than walking pace. Even in all my spizzy new running gear, I look exactly like what I am. The problem is not what I actually look like; the problem is that this doesn’t match the picture of myself in my head. And that is what causes my distress. I lose the joy of the reality that I’m out there running at all. I immediately go from mentally and emotionally feeling naturally high to the Pit of Despair brought on by self-criticism.
It’s an endless litany… ‘Look at that! I’m hardly lifting my feet at all!’ ‘What good is that gorgeous Adidas shirt if I forget to hold in my gut and look frumpy while I’m running?’ ‘Why can’t I remember to brush my hair before I leave the house?’ ‘And what’s with my arm? I look like I’m channeling a Zombie. Ugh!’ And on… and on… and on.
Funny how we never ever run out of things to criticise about ourselves.
I expected to have a complete transformation of my inner dialogue as I lost weight and began to be more congruent with the picture in my head (circa 1982!!) but that’s not what happened. That habit of self-criticism just shifted focus. What’s with that? I mean, why is it so hard to have grace with myself? I practice empathy, unconditional positive regard, grace, acceptance …kazaa …kazaa …kazaa with my clients; what makes it so darn difficult to apply the same to me?
A friend’s post on FB made me laugh, but also highlighted the truth of the quote at the beginning of this post. I am always aware of my own “inner workings” if you will. The space inside of myself that I share with nobody EVER, which for lack of a better idea will call the ‘Cesspool of Truth about me.’ This incongruence is part of my everyday life, and I suspect of others as well.
Choosing to be mindful of my mental dialogue as I watched that video of myself running highlighted the need (again) to renovate my thinking, not just my lifestyle. Really renovate my old, worn out self-destructive recordings and write new ones. Starting with the ‘Cesspool of Truth about me.’ I’ve never articulated that before writing it today. And having it ‘out there’ I find myself feeling angry and exasperated. Why do I think what I say to myself is “The Truth” …any evidence to the contrary be damned?
I’ve done a lot of work on my own stuff – I personally believe as a psychology professional that this is absolutely necessary for me to remain relevant and helpful to the people who come to see me about their own inner workings. Which is to say that it takes something like this to bring my thought habits into focus again. They’ve apparently gotten quite sophisticated at masquerading as something else or lurking in the background, just out of metaphorical sight. It wasn’t until I was ‘third person’ (watching myself) that I tuned in to the mental chatter at the back of my mind.
So. My mental supervisor needs to ramp up her supervising. I am committed to learning how to live with myself with grace.
May it already be so with you.