Words are Our “Frenemies”

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.”

-Marianne Williamson


 

 

Taking the Fear Out of Change

 

Do you like change?  Does it scare you?  For many people, including myself, change can seem frightening.  I have learned that it’s all in how you deal with change that can either make it the greatest blessing or the most miserable thing ever.  We can’t reach our ultimate potential if we avoid change at all cost.  In education, we talk about creating disequilibrium, giving students new or different information and students work to regain their equilibrium by storing the new information or reshaping their pre-existing understanding to accommodate the information.  If we know that disequilibrium, or being out of our comfort zone, is necessary for growth to occur, then why does it seem so darn scary to us?

Is the fear of failure the true culprit?  We are all scared of failing at one thing or another and for different reasons. Maybe it goes back to society’s pressure to be “perfect.”  But, if we don’t buy into the notion of perfection, then are we opening the door to be more accepting of ourselves  and okay with making mistakes or failing at something for the sake of self growth?  After all, the Wright Brothers didn’t exactly get it right the first time, now did they?

Perhaps, it is the fear of success that scares us the most.  If we are successful and do indeed change, we can’t go back to our comfort zone.  We are uncomfortable with the idea of a new comfort zone.  Let’s use getting in shape as an example of this. Let’s pretend we have a friend who is about 100 pounds overweight and is currently inactive.  They wake up one day and decide that enough is enough and they want to live a healthier life.   They live on fast food, several sodas daily (whether regular or diet), and extremely large portions of food at every meal.   More often than not, we take the all or nothing approach or try to find the “quick fix”, either of which is almost assuredly a set-up for failure.  (I say we because I have been guilty of all of these things.) We resort to deprivation diets cutting out carbs, gluten, fat, or subsisting on cabbage soups, all of which are not only unhealthy, but unsustainable.  It has been scientifically proven, a gazillion times over, what is necessary to lose weight, but we think we are the exception to the rule or we just don’t want to wait that long to see results.  In order to lose weight you must expend more calories than you take in.  No one said you had to take in so few calories that you are actually causing metabolic damage, but we go there instead of proceeding cautiously into our weight loss mission.

No one needs to exist on 1200 calories a day and attempt to RUN 3 miles right out of the gate.  You don’t have to empty your cupboards and fridge of every single “junk” food item and fill them with organic kale and tempeh and eat plain tilapia out of Tupperware containers at every meal.  Quite honestly, if I had to eat tilapia out of Tupperware I would probably be the crabbiest person you have ever met! Instead pick ONE thing to change with your eating habits and find ONE way to become more active.  I didn’t say sign up for a marathon next month, I simply said become more active. Go for a WALK 3 times a week, even if it is for only 15 minutes, and work your way up from there.  Don’t start by setting a goal to lose 100 pounds because that is too overwhelming and people tend to beat themselves up if they don’t meet a goal quickly.  Make your first goal losing 5 pounds in the first month.  At the end of the month, reevaluate your progress and set a new goal for the following month.  The more gradual the changes are, the less painful they will be and the likelihood of success increases.  We don’t need to fear success.  We all are worthy of living a better life and showing ourselves respect.

My challenge, for anyone wishing to make a change in their life, is to make your (small, manageable) goals visual to yourself and share your intentions with others.  This increases the likelihood of success by serving as a source of accountability and support.  Feel free to share your goals here and we can work to support each other.  Okay, I’ll start…my goal is to drink more water, 64 ounces, a day and to lift weights 3 times a week for the next month.  I will track this on my kitchen calendar and will reevaluate my goals at the end of August.  Now it’s your turn!

 

Perfect

The word perfect is an adjective that is defined as 1. having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be. 2. free from any flaw or defect in condition or quality; faultless. 3. precisely accurate, exact.  These days it seems like we are obsessed with perfection.  Finding the perfect career.  Buying the perfect house and car.  Finding the perfect spouse.  Being the perfect parent.  Having the perfect body, complexion, outfit, and accessories.  The list is never ending.  How do we know when we have reached perfection?  Is there a secret book out there that has the rules or guidelines for becoming perfect?  Is there some sort of standard unit of measurement?  More importantly, why are we so driven to achieve perfection?

There is nothing wrong with striving to become a better person.  We all have areas of our life that could stand some improvement whether it be working on our health or working for a promotion so we can earn more to pay for that fabulous home and car.  Having something to work toward is what keeps us going.  The goal is ever changing and can swing from one area of life to another.  The problem comes when we forget that we are human, therefore innately flawed, and allow our flaws to embarrass us or convince us we should try to imitate someone else.  Every person has something to offer.  No matter how peculiar their idiosyncrasies might be, having the ability to accept and love oneself for who they are at any given moment in time, is, in my opinion, as close to perfection as we can achieve here on Earth.

Why is it so difficult for so many of us to find that self acceptance?  What habits do we adults have that keep us from loving ourselves?  What are we modeling for our children in our daily lives that plant these seeds of doubt in our children.  I would venture to say that we are doing so unknowingly, not realizing the damage that we’re doing, not only to ourselves, but our children and the future of society.  My hope is that we can get to the bottom of it and educate ourselves so we can stop this cycle and end things like bullying, violence, self destructive behavior, and eating disorders, etc. while enjoying a happier life.