We had planned to meet early on Saturday morning to get our workouts completed before duty called in the rest of our lives. It had been a while since my schedule allowed me to run with Sue and Nicole and I was excited for the company. However, there was an intense need in me to set some ground rules. See, when I get together with some of my running girlfriends, we tend to downplay ourselves. We talk smack about ourselves as if it’s a contest. Our competitive juices get going and it becomes a contest of who can insult her sense of worth best. We don’t mean it to become an “I-suck-more-than-you” party but often it devolves into that. And when my friends whom I love and admire start talking about how much they hate their bodies and athletic ability, well by comparison that must mean really bad things for me. And so the circle of negativity not only continues, it obtains depth.
Wanting to try and end this girlfriend cliche, I imposed a rule for the morning run: No negative self talk. We were all banned from the follow statements:
- I’m so slow.
- Gosh, look at how fat my belly is.
- I suck pond water.
Now, that was not an inclusive list. Anything in that spirit was banned. We could still complain about things in our lives — part of the run with friends is a chance to talk out and gain new viewpoints on the little annoyances that creep into our lives. But we could not put ourselves down. And guess what happened? Well … nothing magical. It wasn’t the best run of our lives. It wasn’t the worst. It was good and fun and challenging. I felt alive and positive and joyful and grateful. It was simplicity.
The running rule above all running rules: Step away from the negative self talk. What will the rest of my week be like if I tried that out? Here’s my game for the rest of the week: Whenever my mind starts talking negative smack to me, whether painfully blatant (“You suck and can’t do this!”) or in the form of subtle fear (“Maybe you took on too many projects, honey.”) I will acknowledge what it is, a negative story, and then choose another thought. I can answer my negative voice (“You know I’ve done this before and I can do it again.”) or ignore it by thinking something completely different (“Pumpkin spice coffee is yummy.”) I may not be able to complete stop negative thoughts from forming in my brain, but I don’t have to give them any power.