I used to be a big runner. I really enjoyed the motivation I got when I would sign up for a race. I would spend “X” amount of money and then felt more obligated to train as I just put money down on the race, but really I put money down on myself. I’ve ran many half-marathons and I’ve also ran the Chicago Marathon once. Running these distances takes a ton of training. You start your training program months in advance of the race. When the race day arrives, it’s now time to put all the training into motion and go out and run the race I signed up and trained for. The race was never easy, but I was well equipped to finish it. When I finished, I didn’t focus on the pain and struggles through the race. I instead, focused on the accomplishment of finishing. I didn’t dwell on the pain and the negative thoughts of quitting when I was finished with the race. I focused on the positive. I celebrated the fact I had just finished.
Why is the celebration so hard to do sometimes in our lives? Why does the negative creep in and repel the positive so easy? Why are our minds wired this way? What can we do to change this and celebrate finishing the race versus all the bumps that occur along the way?
I definitely have had a love-hate relationship with running. While doing it, I enjoy it (mostly), as I love how I feel when I’m done. Endorphins are a hell of a drug after all😊! The love-hate idea stems from the fact it is not easy to just go out and run 3-5 miles. You have to work up to it.
The hate part of the equation usually occurs when I am getting back into running. I am one who is either all-in or I’m all-out of an activity. Running is the exact same. Every time I get back into it, I question myself “why did I ever stop?”. It really would be so much easier to keep the activity going versus having to start over.
When your body is so out of shape, you don’t feel awesome when you first start up running again. No, you don’t go out and attempt 3-5 miles right off the bat. You have to start small. I start somewhere either at a half mile or a full mile of a walk-run style. I will run for a while and then walk until I complete the distance.
Back in the days when I would do the long distance races, I had to start somewhere and what I described above is just how I started. I wasn’t as experienced then, so sometimes I found myself increasing my distances too fast. This would typically lead to some type of injury and maybe some forced time off to heal.
I would get through it though. As I trained for the upcoming race, I continued to up my mileage, according to the program I was using. Even when my endurance and stamina level was high, I still struggled certain days during my runs. Bad days happen.
And then race day would arrive. I was ready! I had trained diligently and was ready to go out and run with my goal always being to finish. I was never out to win the thing, but I had a competition with myself…beat my previous best time. I ran against myself. It was really a good feeling. It didn’t matter where I finished, as long as I did my best going up against myself.
The starting gun would sound and we were off. I’ve run in some cool places so hearing the gun was always exciting. It is really cool to tool around some cities, and even Disney World, through the eyes of a runner trying to complete a goal. The race, even with all of my training never was easy. An old injury might decide to show up and say hi, or somedays you just don’t have it as much as you feel you should. You still run.
And then you finish the race. You are tired. You may hurt a bit or a lot, but you finished. You push the pain and the difficulties of the race back as you celebrate the achievement of finishing the race. You have a sense of pride knowing you have worked your butt off to get to this point. You are very happy with yourself. The positive wins today and the negative takes a back seat.
Why can’t this exact feeling be had in our lives especially when dealing with mental health?
We ask for help, basically like signing up for a race, and then we begin training. We have some bumps along the way, but we keep going. Sometimes we have to nurse an injury and pull off the road for a moment, but it doesn’t stop us. We keep moving forward. We are invested in ourselves after all. We can’t stop, we have to keep training.
The more we train, the stronger our mental health gets. We get better at coping with our issues. We get better at talking ourselves through the negative as it pops up. We start with a short distance, or baby steps, as we don’t want to increase our distance too fast. We then can build our miles and the more we train the easier it gets.
Or at least this is the goal. The idea is we have a down experience and we do what we can to work ourselves out of it. We train our brains how to better deal with these situations. I hope that all the work you put into it leads to a positive experience and that it all works and you are doing well.
The reality is, though, our brains don’t always let us celebrate these victories or at least it seems this way. At least my brain doesn’t all of the time. Lately, I’ve struggled with seeing the good. Or I see the good and the negative figures out a way to shine brighter. I feel like I’m doing what I need to do to train, but the negative keeps creeping in.
Is this how you feel sometimes?
It feels like no matter what I do, I can’t catch a break. But why is this happening?
My brain has been wiring itself for years towards a more negative outcome expectancy. It was never an intentional activity. Heck, I didn’t even allow myself to recognize the problem until a little over a year and a half ago.
I have since put in a lot of work to start correcting myself toward a better more positive me. You think training for a marathon is hard, working to re-wire my brain, that has made itself what it is over the last 20+ years, is a difficult task. Makes the training for a marathon look easy in comparison.
With this re-wiring training going on and as extensive as it is, why is it so hard to see the positive work sometimes? Or why do we not allow ourselves to recognize it?
The negative has had a strong foothold over us for a long time. For years. Our minds are trained to think the worst. Doesn’t mean you live your life always in the negative. There are definitely some good times within all of these years. These good positive times can’t be ignored. My goal is to not sound like I’m all gloom all of the time.
I find the issue is that we allow the negative to creep in. It’s almost like it has an open invite and the door is always open. It loves to show up unannounced and not invited. Negativity doesn’t care if you want it around or not. My brain has functioned in such a way for so long, that negativity can pop up out of no where.
Basically, I struggle at giving myself a break. I struggle at letting go. The negative has an open door to my mind. This is where the training has got to intensify. We have to work on closing the door. We will never be rid of negative experiences in our lives, but they don’t have to be allowed to just show up at anytime and wreck a good time.
I don’t know how it exactly happened or why I let it happen, but I am an excessive worrier. I would throw that into my anxiety bucket, but it can definitely fuel the depression as well. I used to not be this way, but somewhere along the way something changed.
I worry about everything. Really to the point I put up an unrealistic guard. What is that person thinking about me? Do these people like me? Should I be acting goofy out in public? Should you be acting goofy out in public? You are going to attract attention by being goofy so we shouldn’t have any fun. What are people thinking?
Seriously, it’s out of control. It is so out of control that I now have trouble letting my guard down and enjoying the simplest of things. The worry has manifested and mutated so much, that I have this belief that I basically can’t have a good time…period.
This is nuts. What have I done in this life to deserve such a sentence? What have I done in life to have allowed myself to believe and live this way? The answer is nothing. The answer is the brain is open for attack. You let the enemy in and the negative will take over. These seeds, once planted, take no time to germinate and grown, but also root deeply so it is much harder to get rid of the negative.
I know I am not alone in this thought process. I know there are others who believe they are just destined to not having a good time. To the point we feel we don’t deserve it. Well this is Crap…yes with a capital C.
The truth is that none of us deserve to feel this way. It’s almost like we convince ourselves we are bad people. The truth is that this just isn’t true. It is so far from the truth, but the negativity in our brains is so deeply rooted, that over all of these years, the negativity as altered and morphed our way of thinking about ourselves.
You are not a bad person. I am not a bad person. We have done nothing to receive what we feel as the negative and worthless life sentence that we feel we have. It simply is just not the case. You and I deserve happiness. We deserve to have the negativity take a back seat and let the positive door swing open.
I have started talking to myself. No, don’t worry about me…it’s not like that😊. I have started to tell myself, when the negative creeps in, that I deserve whatever good time I am trying to have. I deserve to not worry about everything. I deserve the ability to drop my excessive worry guard. I deserve to be happy.
I can’t say I’ve been doing this for a long time, but it has quickly changed some of my behaviors. It started after a friend of mine shared a technique in the mental health group I have on Facebook (see below for link). This technique is really simple. Start your day off with spending 12 seconds thinking of a positive memory or point in your life. It discussed how it only takes 12 seconds for our neurons to form new more positive pathways. Focus on how the good feeling made you feel. Do it every morning and your brain will start to rewire itself towards the positive.
I’ve taken it a step further. This is the talking to myself portion. I am working on, when I have a negative thought, telling myself something positive. Recalling a happy feeling. Telling myself I deserve to feel positive about whatever, the negative thoughts, are trying to creep on.
I’ve really focused on telling myself I deserve a break. It is OK to shut down the thoughts for a while. Do something I like to do to distract me away from the negative as I put more focus on the positive and being positive. I tell myself I deserve to have a good time.
I have this feeling like I don’t deserve to have a good time. Almost like I’m a bad person who has squandered away the ability to have a good time. This simply just isn’t true. We have done nothing to feel this way. We do not deserve to feel this way. We are good people who deserve to feel pleasure and be able to enjoy the positive. We deserve the right and also the ability to push the negative away and let the positive have the stage.
We have worked too hard to just allow the negative to keep wreaking havoc over our lives. We have trained hard for the big race. When we accomplish our goals and finish our races, we need to be allowed to push the negative aspects away, because the positive aspects deserve the spotlight. We need to celebrate these moments. We’ve worked too hard to let the negative have it’s way with us. We have worked so hard and we continue to work hard. We have our lulls and set backs from time to time, but it doesn’t mean you’ve used up all of your positivity points. These points are unlimited, we just aren’t allowed to see it this way by the negativity enemy.
We deserve to win! We deserve to celebrate out accomplishments! We deserve to feel good in life!
I can do this! You can do this! Together we can do this! We got this!
Have a great day!
Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started:
Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health
This group is meant to focus on an “everybody in” type of focus. I share my music and also this blog there amongst other things. The music I share is instrumental (I am not a singer). I try and attach a positive message to each tune. I also encourage others to share their hobbies or anything that they like to do that makes them happy. Or share anything that is working for them. A place where we can get away from things for a while. A group approach to improving each others mental health!
I’ve also started a podcast in hopes that my desire to spread mental health awareness can reach more people.
Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health
Also on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Amazon Music, and Pandora
Please check it out and feel free to share it as well.