During any average day, my internal conversations go a lot like this:
"Geez, Amy, any decent mother wouldn't have lost her temper there."
"Ummmm...could you BE any more lazy when it comes to keeping your house clean?"
"Hey, nice chubby belly! You wouldn't have that if you'd lay off the chocolate, you know?"
Etc, etc, etc.
Although I hope more people are more positive about themselves than I am, I do think that I'm not alone in having that loop of self-doubt and self-criticism playing endlessly in my head. There are so many expectations of women in our society, I think it is easier to see failures instead of accomplishments.
And this is one of the reasons I run.
I finally went out for a run this morning, after a two-week break (there was strep throat, and then my trip, and then recuperating from my trip). I've definitely lost some of my lung capacity during those 14 days, because this was a HARD run. My muscles were complaining and my lungs were in stitches. Not to mention I waited until nearly 10:00 to get my butt out the door, thus making sure to run in the mid-morning heat. The four miles I wanted to run seemed impossibly long.
There's this thing that happens, though, when you're running. At first, your internal thoughts say "oh, my gosh, I'm dying here. You'd better stop." But I keep on, ignoring that insistent, negative voice. And pretty soon it quiets down. The internal loop gets switched to this: "you can do it, you can do it, you can do it," a rhythmic mantra that keeps me going. Once I've turned around---halfway finished!---it changes again: "see, you are doing it, you are, you are."
So aside from the physical challenge running presents, and the good things it does for my body, what I love about running is this: it's the time in my day when I say good things to myself. I cheer myself on. I override the negative thoughts. That's important---I override the negative thoughts. I come home bolstered up by no one else but me, and that self-encouragement seems to have the biggest impact of all.
Although, something happened this morning that mattered, too. I had about a mile left, and was nearly spent. I ran past this cute little dark-haired girl, about five years old, sitting in the shade on her porch. She waved and shouted out a friendly "hello, there!" to me as I ran past. Then she skipped her way down to the sideway and yelled to my retreating back, "Hey! You're good at running!" Even though it came from a five-year-old, her comment gave me just enough energy to keep running all the way home. I plan on keeping her cheery little voice on auto play during my next runs, and who knows, maybe it'll overcome some of my daily internal monologues, too.