I’m not talking about the things we really hate…because, those things just suck and I’m all for creating work-arounds to not do those if we really feel bad before, during and after them. I’m also not talking about the things we really love because those things are much easier for us to dial into mentally, even if it is a tough workout.
I’m talking about the things we LOVE TO HATE.
We hate doing them, or it might take a very generous amount of extra motivation because it’s somewhat painful, but the reward is why we endure it. With the things we love to hate…we do it for the reward. The pride we feel when our our home is organized and sparkling, the confidence in the mental/physical break-through of a very challenging workout or the happiness we feel for the connections we made at the social event. How do we dig in and endure them?
For me, I have a complete “love-hate” relationship with long distance running. It’s not a part of my normal routine, so when it comes time for me to train for a race, I’m basically starting from scratch each time. I know better than to spend hours sitting around in my running clothes because I WILL talk myself out of it. I’ve always been wired to love shorter, more intense fitness. So, why am I doing a 180-mile relay race with 11 other women this weekend? #RagnarCapeCod. Two reasons; I secretly love running because it’s a complete mental game for me and because I also love the camaraderie of team sports.
Admittedly, since I've been really into weight training lately, I haven't dedicated enough training for this race in particular. But, alas, I have a team of 11 women relying on me to not bail on my runs so I got out this past weekend to log a 7-mile run before the race. It was pretty typical for every non-interval run I do, where my mind tells me a million reasons to stop. I spent the first two miles looking down at my phone every 2 minutes to see how long I had been at it and then doing the math about how far I’d gone. Then, I started telling myself to just walk because my legs felt like lead or my shoe was tied wrong or I should really check FB or get back to so-and-so via email...
This is where my mental game comes in.
I have a ritual for how I “dig in” when my mind is going to that BAD place with anything I love to hate. I picture how I would feel later if I had given up, I picture someone who would love to see me fail, and then on a gentler side, I start mindfully counting 1-10 over and over and over. On this particular run, I probably got about 20 rounds of counting until I realized I was in a much better mental space. I had started to pay less attention to the negative thoughts, and more attention to my number chant, until I realized I was lighter on my feet, running in tempo to the music in my ear-buds and noticing the sights around me. The run progressed much smoother from there once my mind was right and muscles were looser. Miles 3-7 were not without their mental games, I’d feel a cramp here or there but I’d notice it, start my chant and get back to my zone. When I finished, I was damn proud that I had allowed myself to dig in and get through all the negative talk. That was the most I’ve run since before starting a family four years ago. It was a much needed confidence boost before I go into running 16 miles in 24 hours.
Doing the things we love to hate requires a certain level of grit, of digging in even when we feel like we shouldn’t or can’t...in order to get to the reward. Take foam rolling for example, I don’t know a single person that loves doing it while they are doing it, but the promise of the muscle release is what keeps us gritting our teeth laying on that torture device. :)
Here are my suggestions for figuring out if something you are setting out to do is worth it and if it is, how to dig in for the reward…
IS THIS TRULY SOMETHING YOU SHOULD PUSH FOR?
- Ask, is this something I truly love to hate? You'll know you love to hate something if it "fills your bucket"…you feel better after you've done it. Maybe not initially, but you know you will. If you're not sure, try it a few times (using suggestions from below) and if you decide you feel worse and you really hate it, replace it.
- Take action and replace it. If you discover you're doing something that never makes you feel good or works for you towards a positive goal...think about what you can replace it with. If you feel worse for doing something, like continuing to try to save an unhealthy relationship, replace it with something positive that fills you with happiness, confidence, pride, love, etc. If you keep digging in to the wrong challenge, you may burn out and never want to leave your comfort zone. Instead, find something that will "fill your bucket".
ENDURE FOR THE REWARD.
If spring cleaning is satisfying to you and you know you'll feel amazing once you've done it, but you hate doing it….find a way to enjoy it. Invite a friend over and do it together with a glass of wine, put on a great playlist or plan a dinner date with friends for later so you can look forward to that. Or, decide that for every 5 pieces of clothes you finally agree to throw out or donate, you buy yourself one so you can shop when you're done. Remind yourself of what you're looking forward to when you're overwhelmed. Or, less deliberately, come up with an image or a chant or breathing pattern, a la counting sheep, that gets your mind out of the negative space so you can do the act at hand. I find myself counting 1-10 sometimes when I'm running from my car to my condo building in bitter cold weather, it's a way to not think about feeling cold for me. It's sort of automatic for me now.
I'm interested to hear from you, what do you LOVE TO HATE and how do endure it?
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