We use words every day. We read them, write them, say them, think them, and even sing them. We can use our words as a means of support or as a tool of destruction. We usually think carefully about our words as we present them to others, but do we stop to consider their weight as it pertains to how we feel about and view ourselves?
It seems that we are all too comfortable with seeing ourselves in a negative light. We certainly don’t want people to think that we are an arrogant jerk, so instead we diminish any glimmer of positive regard for our self. When someone tries to acknowledge our positive accomplishment like starting to run, we respond with something like “It was ONLY a mile,” because we know people that are able to run 3, or 10, or 26 miles, so self consciously we think our measly mile can’t really be worth much! I can assure you that the people you know who are able to run 3, 10, or even 100 miles, were not birthed from their mother’s womb adorned with a fresh set of Nikes on their adorable little feet! EVERYONE has to start from somewhere. The most important thing is starting! The best way to ensure that you will continue with good habits is by acknowledging them yourself! Sure, you don’t need to contact every media outlet and suggest that they run a spotlight piece on your magnificent mile during the 6 o’clock news, but at least allow yourself to be proud of your accomplishment.
I love to run. I haven’t always loved to run. Matter of fact, in high school I HATED running. I didn’t mind running after a soccer ball, but to set out with the intention of “just” running did not jive for me. I started running around 5 or 6 years ago after a break up. I don’t know what exactly made me decide to go for that first run, but I sure am glad I did! The physical activity did wonders for me. I had so much emotional conflict inside that I didn’t know what to do with, but it would all get sorted out during a run. I didn’t set any speed records (still don’t, nor do I care to) during my runs, but I would find clarity. I often said that God spoke to me when I ran, clear as day, and it helped me make sense of things. I learned that I was physically strong, which allowed my emotional strength to grow, as well. The weight loss that accompanied my new found hobby didn’t bother me, either! I am so glad that I started out running by myself because I didn’t have any pressure from anyone to do speedwork or drills to help me improve my time. It was not a competitive thing for me. It was my time to prove to myself that I deserved to take care of my body and mind. I thought running was so great that I started recruiting non-running friends to be my running buddies and it became a social thing for us. Over the years, I have run a gaggle of 5Ks and 10Ks, multiple half marathons, 2 marathons, and 5 St. Jude Memphis to Mobile Relays. My friends and I would meet on Saturday mornings, at ungodly hours, to do our long runs which allowed us time to catch up on what was happening in our lives. It was great and I treasured these runs.
As with anything, the more you do it, the more likely you are to become desensitized to it or lose appreciation. As we continued to improve on our fitness and a 10 miler became common place, we allowed negative thoughts to creep in. After a while, we put a to stop negative comments, but that is when we got really creative. If you say it in a joking manner, then surely it can’t be as damaging, right? WRONG!!! Every single thing you say counts. I can’t tell you the countless times that I have declared that “I need to get my fat butt in the gym,’ while running various long distances. Surely there is no harm in that! Boy was I wrong.
That is the kind of seemingly innocent talk that little girls overhear and becomes the foundation of poor body image, overall low self-esteem, or eating disorders. What I was doing, without realizing it, was discrediting all of the hard work that I have done, diminishing the obstacles that I have overcome, and making light of the 45ish pounds that I have lost through that hard work. Today, I am very careful about the words that I choose, whether directed at myself or others. It can be extremely challenging at times, but it is well worth it. I think about things differently and while life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, it helps me to see more of the positive things in life by first acknowledging the positive things I have done for myself.
What would happen if we were all kinder to ourselves? Think about how you refer to yourself and cut out those negative thoughts and see how things change for you.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”