I recently signed up for a 10 mile run in my city. For some, this would not be a big deal – 10 miles might be an easy weekend run for them.
That would not be me.
Back in the years of high school gym when they had us run one mile, I was the student struggling to complete it – lungs burning and finishing last. It’s not that I wasn’t active. I played volleyball and tennis in high school – but I told myself that I wasn’t a runner.
If you told me 10 years ago that I would sign up and train for the Broad Street Run, I would have laughed loudly and said, “I could never do that.”
It’s so easy to put ourselves in a box:
I do this – I don’t do that.
I can do this – I could never do that.
I’m finding that decluttering is not only happening in my physical space but I am decluttering negative self talk as well.
Thanks Couch to 5K
Running still isn’t easy for me. I did my first 5K in October of 2013. I used the Couch to 5K app where they start you off nice and easy with intervals of walking and running. It’s an 8 week program. It took me a year to complete. I took my time and slowly but surely finished the 5K successfully.
It felt great to train and complete something that I had never done before. I am learning to say “yes” to challenges that interest and intimidate me. As I complete them, I’m learning that my body and my mind can handle more than I think it can.
Changing My Inner Monologue
While training my body to run long distances, I am also training my mind:
- As I hear myself doubting whether I can run 10 miles straight without stopping – I tell myself to focus on the next step – not all 10 miles at once.
- As I run and the first mile is still hard, I focus on running the next quarter mile or the duration of the next song. I tell myself to slow down, put one foot in front of the other – I can do this.
- As I cramp up and want to stop, I push into my side and slow down but don’t stop. The cramp passess, it is only temporary.
The Similarities with Running and Decluttering
I use many of these same tactics while decluttering our home. In the past I have unconsciously believed statements such as, we can never have a “tidied home” while we have young children, or feeling defeated because we have so much stuff.
In order to counter these negative beliefs, I have to take it one area at a time or I would feel overwhelmed and want to quit. There are times when I want to just ignore the piles, but I push through and slowly work through them. I don’t stop.
Decluttering has been a way for me to continually ask myself what is important to me in the present. Do the items that I choose to keep reflect those priorities and bring me joy?
Decluttering has been an empowering process for me. I’m learning I can change my environment. Things don’t have to stay the way they are just because that’s the way it’s been for so long. I don’t need to hold onto things because I’ve held onto them up to this point. I’m learning to be intentional, proactive, and in the present.
As I turn 43 years old, I am realizing that it’s never too late to try new things, to say yes to things that interest and intimidate me. I am finding that it is precisely those “beyond my reach” challenges that show me “I could do it” after all.
Are there things you have tried that you “never would have done” before? If not, what’s holding you back? What is one thing that you would like to try but haven’t because “you could never do that”?
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I totally relate in terms of the stamina required to de-clutter. The KonMari method (I’m sure you are discovering) has you de-clutter by category instead of by area and I’m finding that while the completeness of doing so is gratifying, I definitely get tired and find myself saying things like “what if I just leave out my jewelry for today?” (which I did and still haven’t gotten back to). And it feels very overwhelming to be trying to de-clutter, clean, contract for renovations, and oh yeah, work all at the same time. But taking things in increments is definitely the way to go (take it from the woman who completed a dissertation by “chunking” it into 4 hour writing sessions).
Your blog has been so enlightening on so many levels. I will fan-girl later.
To answer your question: I always told myself that I had performance anxiety and that teaching was beyond my capability for that reason and probably a few others. I know this sounds like crap because you’ve met my family (lots ‘o teachers), but believe me, I had written it all off. Anyway, my desire to adapt to new circumstances overrides a lot of other stuff, apparently, because I signed up for this CELTA course (Certificate for English Language Teaching for Adults – ?? – not sure), and it’s been interesting and soul-crushing and all of that. With a lot of guidance, I’ve taught 10 lessons of varying lengths in front of whole classrooms and learned how to coax my anxiety into the background so that I can hear what my students have to say. That is very motivating – to stand up in front of people but focus on speaking less and listening more.
Of course, that is relevant in other parts of life as well. Speaking less, listening more. I’m still learning how to do that.
But on the running tip, here’s my overwrought blog post on the subject, because it was also something I thought I couldn’t do, and it changed my idea of myself when I did it: https://movingmatters.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/bayou-city-classic-10k/ I would edit this so much if I had the patience and time right now, ha. 🙂
Rachel – good for you! Heading over to read your post now!
I still say that completing the Broad Street Run in 2011 was the most empowering experience of my life so far. I never saw myself as a runner and still sort of don’t compared to _those_ runners. (You know the ones I mean.:) But it’s true, you just put one foot in front of the other enough times and the next thing you know, you ran ten miles! My time wasn’t great by any stretch but I was so proud and empowered. And it opened my mind about myself for sure.
My house wasn’t overall terrible but my basement… that was my little secret shame. For years I set goals to clean it and finally did this past summer, after years of not getting to it. It IS a similar feeling to finishing a race you never thought you would or could finish! I remember the day it was mostly done, I stood alone in the now-cleared basement and just grinned like an idiot for about 15 minutes straight. I was just down there today and already getting excited about all the stuff I could now see could also be gotten rid of the next time I set aside a day or two to work on it some more. That empowerment doesn’t leave you!
I still feel frustrated when clutter creeps onto surfaces in my home and still feel mildly apprehensive about the race coming up in a month but I don’t think I’d ever go all the way back thinking like I did before that empowerment and success changed my thinking. I’m learning the best of both worlds, how to be realistic with myself and to give myself grace when it is needed or necessary AND that I can do great things!
I’m also super loving the blog. The things you say perfectly articulate things I’ve thought or experienced and/or really encourage me in new ways of thinking and doing. Thanks for taking the time and energy to do all this and keep it up!
Thanks Liz. It is empowering to make decisions and follow through on them – small, medium, and large!
I can totally relate to this post! The same thing happened to me when I became a runner. I remember thinking, “I could never do a 5K.” But then I did one. Then, “I could never do a half-marathon.” Then I did one. I am struggling now with “I could never do a marathon”, but you post reminded me of where I have been and how far I have come. Thank you!
Jill that’s great! I have great admiration for those who complete a marathon – at this point, a marathon definitely intimidates, an only interests a smidge. 🙂 I just did 7 miles (the most I’ve EVER run at one time) on Saturday. I’m feeling pretty good about the 10 mile Broad St in a few weeks. I’ll probably write a post about it after!
I’m glad you’re learning it at 43. I’m 54, and just now learning that I can do it!
De-cluttering negative self talk is the perfect description!
That’s great Melinda! It’s never too late is it?
Whoops! Forgot to say I’m here from Monday Madness.
Great post! Thanks for encouraging me today. I’m visiting you from Women wit h Intention.
You’re welcome Tayrina! Thank you for reading and commenting! I really appreciate it.
This is such a motivating post. I have to fight negative self-talk almost on a daily basis. I know I can do things, but yet I let doubt and fear stand in the way all too often. Thank you for these gentle reminders that it shouldn’t be allowed to continue.
I’m so glad it encouraged you Crystal. I’m loving the signs and reminders to “Do it scared” because I know fear and doubt can keep us from doing a lot of things!