OK, so this post is full of some real talk… I have been on the struggle bus for a while. I KNOW this is a seasonal challenge- August and early September are truly just the time of year when Phoenicians are constantly wondering if they should pack it all up and move… and this year has been extra hard with all the humid heat instead of our typical dry heat. Plus, while I have been outside training, I am doing all of it trying to avoid the sunlight as much as possible- running super early, taking the shadiest paths possible, etc. And my mental health is just SO much better when I can actually go out and ENJOY the sunshine. So while I am in a season of struggle, one of my go-to practices is to “do in the dark what you know how to do in the light” and that means things like continuing to move my body, practicing gratitude, hydrating, praying, and asking myself the following 3 questions when I start to get really overhwelmed and critical of myself…which can pop up a lot during this training cycle, especially as my miles for the week keep getting more intense…
As a recovering perfectionist, there are so many unreasonable expectations I have of myself and sometimes just asking the question “says who?” helps me remember that no one is putting as much pressure on me as I am. The answer to this question is usually either “social media aesthetics” or “myself” or, by far the worst, “the idealized version of me in my head who isn’t actually human and requires no sleep or down time” When I realize my family is not asking me to make picture perfect meals, my friends are not asking me to keep it all together all the time, and my community generally doesn’t care if my house is perfectly clean, I can give myself a freaking break and remember that good enough is almost always good enough, and that done is better than perfect.
Would you talk to a friend like that?
I say incredibly mean things to myself sometimes. Things that I would be pissed off and horrified if I heard anyone saying to a friend of mine. I have spent years trying to stop talking to myself that way and I still need to constantly remind myself not to by asking this question. Would you tell a friend “you are failing at everything”? Would you tell a friend “you look like a ragamuffin, what is wrong with you?!” Would you ask a friend “why are you so lazy?” I can’t answer for you, but I cannot imagine every talking to one of my friends that way. And yet I have said ALL of these things to myself. When I am lucky enough to stop the spiraling anxiety or depression thoughts by remembering this question, it is astonishing how quickly I can reframe my self-talk. Even better, my husband has learned when I might need to hear this question, and sometimes steps in to ask it for me.
What’s Your Why?
This question is like magic for my discipline when I am lacking motivation. It is something I am coming back to over and over again with my marathon training right now. Why am I getting up at insane hours and putting in all these miles? So that I can be proud of this accomplishment, so I can show my kids that we can do hard things, and so that I can raise awareness of the need for clean water and the value of child sponsorship. That seems like a pretty big thing, but this question is also something I sometimes ask myself of the simplest things. What’s my why between budgeting for date nights and solo dates with he kids when we have so many other needs right now? Because quality time matters and I want to build solid relationships with these beautiful people. What’s my why behind taking out the trash now? So that future me doesn’t have a stressful morning tomorrow. I also sometimes ask it and discover that my why isn’t a good enough reason to keep doing things the same way over and over- What’s my why behind needing the house to look totally put together before a friend can be invited over? OH.. it’s not a good enough why to keep procrastinating inviting them over…
So those are my three questions I find myself asking on the daily during this season of life. I hope one or all of them are helpful for you!