“There was no thief, because it was me that lost you.”
How far back did I have to go? I wasn’t sure, so I went ALL the way back. I’ve mentioned many times that I started running alone, and continued to run alone for several years. What is considered “the running community” had not made it’s way into my life yet. My friends and family weren’t well-versed in the running world either, so I was free of pre-conceived ideas, restrictions, and limitations of how to best approach accomplishing my goals. At the time, I didn’t understand what the lack of that kind of conditioning meant, or that it was even a thing. We are all conditioned as we go through life in some form or another – how we’re taught, where we grow up, how certain things “just are” and being told what we can and cannot do based on….nothing. A lot of it can be passed down from generation to generation.
When I began getting more and more involved in the running community, I noticed that my goals were and how I trained were a bit strange, but most people were welcoming and kind. (the running community likes to brag about how fun and inclusive we are). My personality type absorbs a lot of data and information from peers and surroundings. The unconscious mind is always listening. There wasn’t one particular circumstance and it wasn’t overnight, but very slowly over time I adopted other people’s doubts, fears, and projections as my own. By consistently hearing these other opinions from people who are my friends and who I knew cared about me and had good intentions, I let those doubts take root in my mind – capability, training, burnout, racing, etc. It was certainly enough to derail me and question myself. It created an inner conflict that I didn’t know how to solve, because even though I was putting those doubts into practice, they were not truly of me. Have I maxed out my potential? Is this it? The idea of quitting the sport (at least competitively) made me nauseated. It wasn’t right. But how do I get in a better head space and get out of this spiral so I can progress?
I was fortunate to cross paths with someone who not only was able to see me being smothered, but was also willing to help rekindle the fire. He is considered by some as a “mindset mentor.” He was able to explain different personality types and help identify my own and understand how I think. He stressed the importance of self-affirmation to the unconscious mind and guarding what goes in (and stays in) and how to identify what might be helpful and dismiss what are just another’s projections. He taught me how to re-evaluate my beliefs. When someone else’s beliefs “trigger” me, does part of me actually believe what they said is true? He put the pieces together of what a strong mind looks like, and not just a stubborn one (big difference).
I’ve always known the mind plays a role in performance, but now I’m beginning to understand just how big of a role. It’s easy to identify and dismiss a threat when someone is in your face about it. It’s much harder when the doubt is disguised by someone who cares about you. Most of the time they don’t even know they’re doing it (projecting). It can be as subtle as, “Wow, that would be awesome if you can do it.” In your mind, that needs to be changed to will and when.Another example, “I can’t believe you were able to do that.” Often times this is considered a praise, but the unconscious mind is unable to distinguish intention – it’s just the words. So in your mind, change the can’t believe to something like of course I can, that’s what the body was meant to do. I even catch myself projecting on to my friends sometimes. Not only am I practicing guarding my own mind, but also watching how I might be inserting doubt into other’s minds. Once you start catching these ques, it can be exhausting because they’re everywhere.
There’s more (there’s always more) to the mind than most care to admit. I’m learning and using the most with training and performance, but it is applicable anywhere in life. The slightest tweaks in mindset can make a world of a difference.