Monday, November 14, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 14: Never Good Enough

Remember how I said I put down all the self-criticism and worry and fear during my race on Sunday? Well, the thing that I didn't tell you yesterday is that it's pretty easy to pick it all back up again. I went to the Up & Running forums and saw that everyone else had run their race faster than me. Sure, someone has to be last, but I didn't want it to be me. "Never Good Enough" is so much a part of me that I can't seem to let go of it for long. It's like a Velcro boomerang, always coming back and sticking to me again.

There are a lot of reasons this could be. I could blame my parents' high expectations for me. I could blame my husband, who has a tendency to be critical of himself and others and has said some unintentionally (I hope) cruel things to me over our many years together. I could blame the girl at the race yesterday who handed me a large men's t-shirt and looked doubtful when I said I wanted a women's sized shirt, which I could see right behind her. I really think that this feeling is part of the human condition, and I may be a little more prone to it than others, or I just don't know what other people are thinking all of the time and unfortunately, it's hard to escape my own thoughts. I also feel like other people expect it from me, that they are silently agreeing with me even as they say, "You shouldn't be so hard on yourself."

One thing, though, is that I am really tired of it.  I am almost 41 years old and I don't feel like I've ever stopped wishing I could change almost everything about me. Every race I do is a letdown because I should have done better. Every time I weigh myself the number on the scale is too high. All my attempts to "fix" myself are wearing me out.  But short of having a stroke, I'm not sure how to make that nagging voice in my head shut up.


  1. Oh Jen :( I wish I knew what to say. I could say logical stuff (not everyone has run it yet, not everyone posted a report, what about the gazillions of folk who weren't fast enough to join the course, what about the fact your course was craaaazy terrain, not meant to be a competition, etc etc) but i know it's not about logic. Just know that here's one person definitely *not* silently agreeing with you as i say "you're so hard on yourself." i mean it with wholehearted kindness and empathy and wish i could hug the hell out of you and help you believe in your awesomeness. i see a woman who is one of my all time favourite bloggers, someone i admire for having such depth and intellect and combining that with such awesome sporty feats. i couldn't even dream of running 10k. i wish i knew how to make that voice go away too. thinking of you jen.

  2. What Shauna said.

    It's so easy to be critical of and hard on ourselves. And so easy to take things personally. (The t-shirt lady could have been thinking of something – anything! – but your shirt size.)

    When I'm too hard on myself, I try to ask myself how I would treat a good friend. I certainly wouldn't bash her if the number on the scale was too high or the finish time in a run was too slow. Anyone who gets out there and runs is miles ahead of those of us who are still on the couch. It will be a long time before I feel fit enough to sign up for another organized running event. (I can't even call them races.)

    This, too, shall pass. It'll probably come back again, but in the meantime, it WILL pass. Hang in there.

  3. Thanks to both of you for posting such sweet and supportive comments. I think that this is a bad mind-habit, and maybe it just has to be a constant practice of not attaching to those negative thoughts. The shirt fits perfectly, btw.

  4. You just haven't found the right sport. I am never nor do I ever personally want to be a runner. It would be depressing to me too. I found dragon boating and love it and excel. Perhaps there is something else you would enjoy and excel at?

  5. Have you ever read any of Russ Harris' stuff on the thoughts we fuse with? I reckon you might fing the book 'the happiness trap' very interesting. Take care darl (and btw WELL DONE on your 10 - not to be sneezed at, ever!)

  6. "I'm not sure how to make that nagging voice in my head shut up."

    For me, it's a matter of figuring out what the voice needs. Does it need cajoling? Does it need comfort? Or does it need a resounding "shut the fuck up!"?

    "The voice" is not YOUR voice. Unfortunately so many of us believe that it is, indeed, our voice. The key does not lie in believing that if we could just shut it up we'd be fine, it lies in understanding that the voice will always be there, and so it's about learning how to deal with it...understanding what it needs and not letting it take over for too long,

  7. I remember living with an extremely critical voice in my head. I fought it off by learning to talk back, basically to defend myself. At first I had to pretend to be someone else, someone much nicer, but eventually I managed to introduce some doubt. They always say "don't believe everything you think", but it's hard because you assume that the voice in your head is true.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07