People have asked me why I seem so generally upbeat and positive most of the time. Truth is, I’m not really.
I think I’m like most people who struggle with thoughts of self-doubt but cover it up with a smile or a can do attitude.
I’m someone who hasn’t figured out how to control mindset and the balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation – and it’s something I have learned more about myself (or at least identify when I’m doing it) -during these last two years.
This morning a friend asked me why I post selfies of myself on Twitter after my run. To some it may look like I’m gloating but the reality is that it’s something else.
You see, most of the time, I’ve got constant negative thoughts swirling around in my head. Thoughts like:
“I’m too old”
“What are you trying to prove?”
“Who cares what you do?”
“Why are you doing this?”
“So what are you trying to prove?”
“You’re no spring chicken”
These thoughts swirl about in my head constantly.
When I’m jogging, you are the whim of your thoughts and the MOMENT your brain says these things, it’s an automatic response from your body which shuts down. Then, you stop, you don’t even try and the sense of failure gets perpetuated because you failed already. Over time, you don’t even bother at all. Pretty soon, you’re in a comfort zone and it’s hard to get out of it. You make excuses.
When I’m jogging, I’m CONSTANTLY battling these negative thoughts to stop. The excuses swirl around in my head.
“There’s pain in your ankle Helen, just stop.”
“Gee your legs feel heavy and leaden, can you do this?”
“It feels like it’s going to rain. Was that a droplet on your face? Just stop”
“The magpies are swooping. You don’t want to be pecked in the eye, just stop.”
“Maybe don’t do 5km, do just a lap.”
“Why are you doing this today?”
“A 5km jog will take 30 minutes – that’s a WHOLE 30 minutes you can be doing something else, just stop”
“Your music list is really crap. You can’t run to this music. Just stop”
“If you take your phone out of the pocket to change the music, you’ll see the timer and then get disheartened with how much you’ve got to go yet. Just stop. Why are you putting yourself through this?”
IT’S CONSTANT. This is the state of my head.
One of the ways I’m trying to switch my thinking and get me thinking differently is that I get into a mantra with each pounding of the pavement.
“You can do this.”
“Think how good you’ll feel after you’ve done it”
“See that tree? You can jog up to that and then you’ll even do more steps beyond it”
“Don’t stop now, you got this!”
“You’re not in pain. There is no pain in your right hip.”
And so it goes.
It is REALLY HARD to keep thinking positive to REVERSE every negative thought in my head that is SCREAMING for me to stop.
It’s made me think of motivation and I’ve realised I have an imbalance when it comes to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
I have come to the realisation that I’m not overly intrinsically motivated. I give up too easily because the negative thoughts take over far too quickly for my liking and like a habit, immediately I give in to them.
One of the ways, I try to overcome is that I need to then have some external focus. That is, the idea that I can take a photo of me in my cap at the end of a run and share on Twitter, is some form of confirmation that I achieved a goal.
Others who are more intrinsically motivated don’t need to do this however, I know myself. The moment I find it difficult, I’ll stop and then I don’t hold myself personally accountable.
These tweets are in actual fact, my own personal accountability. I don’t care if anyone doesn’t see them nor comments on them. The fact that I shared them publicly is really just a way for me to overcome the negative thoughts in my head that are constantly there when things get tough.
One of the things I want for myself is to change the way I think and am motivated. If I can reach a point where I can simply do things without sharing on Twitter or without external confirmation – that is, DO THE THING quietly, without fanfare and for myself alone – would say I’d be in a better place mentally. It’s one of the things I admire in people who can easily do this for themselves without drawing attention to it.
It’s a constant struggle to balance out mindset and motivation and makes me believe that how we think is who we are.
I need to change my thinking but how?