**Side note: I’ve started a Facebook site for theflameinside, and I’d love it if you connected with me there. That makes it easier to share with your friends, if you find a post that is particularly moving for you. Or just to hear some of the other news I’ve got that isn’t necessarily blog worthy. Check it out here!
I have found myself hearing the things I say to myself in an acute, very sensitive way. And I’ve come to a few conclusions:
- Very few of the tapes that play in my head are actually *mine*. Often, they are other people who have said things that have stuck.
- Most of the time, they don’t even make sense!
- The person who did say it has bigger issues than I do.
Here are a few examples that fit the bill:
- “You’re too heavy to cut your hair to your shoulders. It’ll make you look fat.” (Um….wrong. I know a few beautiful ladies who are heavier who have short hair.)
- “You’re stupid.” (This couldn’t be more wrong. I won’t even give credence to the statement by explaining why.)
There are a few others, though, that I’ve heard in my years that stick with me. Even though they weren’t said with malice or intent. Here are two that I hear that have actually done me some good:
- “When you run, it sounds like elephant footsteps.” (Thanks, BFF#1 – I think of it every time I run, but it forces me to shorten my stride and run with better form. And yes…every time we run the Runnin’ of the Green, I will remind you. ‘Cause it’s funny!)
- “You can’t do that.” (I realize this is a general phrase I’ve heard a lot over the years, but it’s part of what drives me to do anything.)
This story is about those two phrases. I’m not sure if I’ve told the story before, so if I have, bear with me as I tell it again. If not, then you’re in for a heartwarming and amusing tale of foolishness.
BFF#1 told me that me feet sounded like elephant footsteps the very first time we ever ran together. I weighed about 198 lbs, and had never run (on purpose) in my life. She called me on Friday and said she’d be running the very popular Bolder Boulder (a challenging 10K race), and asked if I wanted to do it with her. I did. Sounded fun (I would come to regret that!).
So there we were. About 1/2 K into the 10K. Amongst the other 1000’s of runners were the unmistakable “whap-whap-whap” sounds of my heavy feet. (Insert her comment here.) Now… at the time I was a little mortified. All I could think of were the awful various “you’re-a-fat-girl” random tapes that I could so easily cue up. But, I did it. I performed horribly. 10K took me 1:40 to do. And I suffered for days afterward and thought, “What the heck was I thinking? I’m not a runner!”
Now, insert the other comment here: “You can’t do that.” I was determined to prove whoever it was in my head wrong. Yeah…I can. And I so I did. I started running. Small runs, at first. 2 miles here and there. Then a little more. And then a little more. And the next year, I ran that same 10K in 1:10. A full 30 minutes less. And then, I was hooked. I started running more and more and more.
The next year I really wanted to do the Colfax Half-Marathon (which is 13.2 miles). But I was a little short on cash and felt a little weird about it because, despite the fact that I could and had run longer distances, that tape played over and over. “You can’t do that.” The week before the event, BFF#1 calls and says she’s running the event as part of a relay team with the people she works with.
**Side note: I love BFF#1. She is one of two people who have known me, inside and out, good and bad, dark and bright, and loves me anyway. Nothing (and I repeat *nothing*) has ever happened between us with the intent of hurting the other. But that being said, there is an unspoken competitiveness between us. It’s a good thing. It always pushes us further and challenges us to be better people. I’m grateful for her every day.
But…all of that loveliness aside, I was like, “Oh hell no! You’re not running that event if don’t!” So I managed to come up with enough for the registration and there I was – ready to run the entire distance, alone.
There was a cool satisfaction I had; sort of an empowered state of mind. I *could* run it and now, I was going to.
Imagine my surprise when I get the call from her, the Friday before the event, and hear these words: “We’re not running it. One of the guys on our team is injured.” Wait…..WHAT?!? She was gracious, as she always is, and offered to take me to the start line. The hubs would meet me at the finish to get me home. For the next two days I lamented my stupid need to be competitive and felt like an idiot because now I was going to torture myself for 13.1 miles…and for what? For the glory of knowing I was a “real runner”?
Race day arrived. My BFF picked me up and drove me. I expressed my uncertainty at the distance. I was nervous. But, being the amazing friend she is, she just encouraged me and made me feel better. She dropped me off and I stood there, looking at all of the other runners and still had that nagging need to come clean to her. So I called. The conversation went something like this:
me: (ring ring)
her: Hey! Is everything okay?
me: Yeah….no. I’m still nervous. And I have a confession. (sigh) I was upset because you were running the relay so I signed up for the whole half-distance so I could prove that I wasn’t a loser and then you aren’t running it and now the joke’s on me because I will be kicking my own ass for the next 13 miles while you go home and relax and I’m stupid!
her: (quietly) …I know that’s why you did it.
me: I’m sorry.
her: It’s okay. I’m glad that it helped you push yourself to do something that is uncomfortable. You’ll do fine. I know you’ll do great.
And so I did it. I went out, ran 13 miles through old neighborhoods full of memories and with the support and encouragement of the people who loved me and believed in my success. And yeah…. at about mile 12 I was in pain and regretting every stupid step that took me from the start line to where I was. But after crossing the finish line I was overwhelmed with so much pride that I cried. I still have my finisher’s medal hanging in my office. It is a reminder of what I can do if I put my mind to it. (I also did the same event with BFF#1 the next year.)
This is the moral of the story: most of the tapes we play for ourselves are played when we’re facing adversity. And that’s when it’s easiest to believe. Pay attention to what you say to yourself when the chips are down. And refuse that voice admission into your choices. Some of your tapes, like mine, can be motivating. But others are destructive. What are you playing for yourself and it is suiting you? If not, destroy that tape. Replace it with something else.
I’ll give you one: “If you can control it, you can do whatever you put your mind and heart to. I believe in your power.”
And you can quote me on that.