Today, I attended a cycling class for the first time in two years. I have to mention, a few years ago I was in the best shape of my life. I was working out an hour a day plus mountain biking a few times a week.
That was until I found out that I had over 70 tumors and had to start cancer treatment. I’ve been on the life-saving but horrible treatment ever since. I haven’t physically been able to workout while on the medicine, and I’m just now starting to feel better, although I don’t remember what it feels like to feel good. Throughout treatments, I always walked every day. I am currently feeling so much better; I decided to start working out again.
At first, I added a step class, once a week. And then a second step class. Today, I decided to add a cycle class. Cycle is hard, ya’ll. It was hard for me when I was super fit. Today, I couldn’t even keep up with the “resting” speed of the lady leading the class. Fifteen minutes into the class, I wanted to quit. My brain, without my consent, said it.
“Fit Erica would be so disappointed in you.”
I almost flinched.
I recognized it instantly, negative self-talk. That phrase from my brain was so flippant, so off-hand and real, I could have believed it. I could have let it drag me down. But then I started thinking about what I’d actually said to myself. I was saying that if Erica from two years ago could see me, knowing that I had had two years of debilitating cancer treatment, she would still be disappointed in me? The idea is ridiculous. If Erica from two years ago knew what we were going to go through, she would be so proud of me. She would cry and wrap her arms around me. She would tell me that all that mattered was that I was still alive.
So why? Why do we talk to ourselves like this? Why do we think so lowly of ourselves when we all do difficult things? Why is it okay for me to say phrases like this to myself when I would never say them to anyone else? Negative self-talk is dangerous and counterproductive and always destroys. I usually steer clear of negative self-talk, but in that moment of disappointment and exhaustion, it crept in. But I recognized it and stopped it before it could hurt me.
The first step to dispelling negative self-talk is to recognize it! Call it out for what it is! Take a step back and realize that negative self-talk is counter productive and does so much more harm than good. It is the combined voice of all those people in your life that said you couldn’t do it, couldn’t be what you wanted to be. Walk away from those voices. Acknowledge and focus on the amazing things that you have done, and replace that negative self-talk with the things that you have accomplished.
We are all better off without it.