Taking your mind elsewhere

One of our Up & Running participants Angie posted a great question in the comments of my Ironman 70.3 conclusion:

I really struggle with the mind thing and the negative thoughts exactly like yours. Even with my swimming. I know I can swim a 3km open water, but even at the next one I have exactly the same thoughts. How do you take your mind to another place? Is there anything you practice to do this? 

I love Gahan Wilson!

I think I lived for about the first forty-five years of my life thinking some positive but mostly negative thoughts about myself. I was never enough. Never good enough, fast enough, smart enough, thin enough, elegant enough, beautiful enough. You could pretty much insert whatever you want in there because in my own opinion I was never going to make my own grade. I also had a tendency towards a little depression now and then but I was pretty much resigned to myself just “being” this way.

But somewhere about seven years ago I made a huge discovery about myself. It was this:

I am in control of my emotions

I was the one who decided whether the glass was half empty or half full. I could also see that when I was up or down I even had a physical state that was totally different. I started looking at the way I was when I felt good and I started actively working on putting myself into “state” as often as I could.

I had to do the same thing with my thoughts and meditating really helping with this. In meditation whenever a new thought crosses your mind’s screen you need to gently push it away. I saw that I needed to do the same thing in my everyday life whenever I had negative thoughts about myself or about any situation that I found myself in. And then I had to do it over and over again until it became automatic.

Sometimes if I’m alone I’ll even talk to myself, pat myself on the back and tell myself that I am not only awesome, but doing a great job. If I’m doing something that I’ve already done before and know I can do again I just bring my mind to those wonderful moments of swimming or biking or running. You just have to catch yourself right as you start to go down the negative road and turn it around right then and then. And do it a thousand times more. It takes practice!

In our Up & Running member’s forum we had another similar question:

“How do you deal with the negative/disappointed thoughts afterwards? I’ve been sulking for days after my botched up race and my about of preparation and anticipation pales in comparison with yours.” 

First I try and list all the things that did go right: making it to the finish line, still being alive, etc. Then I take the emotion out of the mix and decide technically where I could have done better: slower start, better fueling, different race venue are great examples. Then I  remind myself how privileged I am to be able to race for “fun”. My disappointment in my results pales in comparison to any real world problems out there. I consider myself lucky to be able to play this way.

Here’s a great video for you to watch about why we do what we do, I love Tony Robbins!

  1. Angie
    Yay my question! Seeing this post this morning gave me a kick up the bum. I have definitely been letting my emotions control me. I know I can't control my thoughts but I can control how I react to them. Like you said it take practice, just got to keep it up.
  2. Tessa
    Thanks Julia <3 Gonna try real hard to follow your example next time things don't go my way ;)