A couple of years ago, I was running and enjoying it. Some months before I would have considered the use of the words 'running' and 'enjoying it' in the same sentence as an oxymoron! But sure enough, I looked forward to my runs and was proud of the progress I was making. It had been a hard slog - and had taken quite an effort to go from couch potato to 5k (yes, I used that App to get me moving!). But I was doing it. I was proud. I was a runner.
Then one week I didn't go running. And the next week I found it easy to find excuses for not going for a run. And the next, and the next...suddenly I was not a runner. I had broken the habit and instead replaced the pride I had felt with a sense of guilt.
Months past and each week I beat myself up for no longer being a runner. How hard is it to go for a run? How come I couldn't bring myself to pull on my trainers and just head out?
And then yesterday I found myself running. I had spontaneously broken out into a run whilst walking the dog. And as I ran, I realised just what I was saying to myself:
"Well you might be running now, but you'll be exhausted in a minute."
"What's the point, you'll never keep this up."
"Why are you doing this to yourself? Can't you remember how painful it was last time?"
And so it went on. As I tuned into my internal chatter, I smiled. I realised what I had been doing to myself and why I had found it so hard to start running again. What had stopped me was a sense that in order to be considered a runner I would need to head out 3-4 times a week, every week. The weight and pressure of needing to become a runner again had stopped me from running. I realised that I didn't need the pressure of being a runner (which feels like a change in identity, a commitment to a way of life that seemed impossible to achieve) but rather I just wanted to run (to enjoy being in the moment and relishing the choice of being able to run, walk, skip or jump!) So, I am going to live in the present and enjoy each run for what it is. And I am not going to label myself a runner, but rather someone who likes to go for a run when the mood takes them!
Are there areas of your life where you have put a label on something which makes it fixed and seemingly out of reach? And if you changed your language to make it more active, would be feel more achievable?