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Shut up brain!!!


Seriously. Its in overdrive. Its so stupid. I wish I could turn it off. We're attempting Grays and Torrey's this coming Saturday (weather permitting) and I'm already psyching myself out about why I won't be able to do it. 

  • Maybe I'm not ready.
  • Maybe I won't be able to acclimate to the altitude.
  • Maybe I haven't worked hard enough and I won't have the legs to complete it.
  • Maybe my asthma won't be in check and I'll have to turn around.
  • Maybe I'll get some stomach ailment because I eat some gluten and I'll have to poop in the woods

Maybe my brain is a stupid liar that makes up stories and it should just shut up already! I'm curious what other people do to counter the negative self talk. I know its completely counter productive, and I do try to keep it in check. But I'm in a constant competition with myself. Which I think is good, right? I need to compete with the me I was before, and be better. But if I'm not, if circumstances don't allow, what does that mean? It probably means I just try again, and try to enjoy the process. 

In the meantime I've been looking into how to quiet this little bitch of a beast that lives in my head. I've come across a few helpful tips.

First and foremost, it can help to give this inner critic a name. In my case, I think I'll call her Gertrude. Gertrude is a real pain in the ass. Naming your negativity takes away some of the seriousness that can build up and lead to anxiety. So, when Gertrude starts acting up, separating her from me by a name can be very helpful. Gertrude is a pessimistic little brat who thinks she won't be able to accomplish anything. But I think she's a nag who should just shut up. See? Already working.

Second, give the rants, or better yet, give Gertrudes' rants, a name. In Gertrudes' case, I'll call them stories. Gertrude makes up stories. They're not factual. She, nor I, can see what the future holds. But she likes to make up worst case scenario stories to entertain herself and to try to keep me from failing by not even trying. But that doesn't mean I should buy into them.

Third, tell someone. I should tell someone about Gertrude. Or better yet, just about what my worries are. People might be a little concerned for my mental health if I start talking about the voice in my head named Gertrude. I have a few friends that I can confide anything in, and I do. And it helps to just send a quick email that says "I'm already psyching myself out. I wish I could shut my head up". The simple reassurance from a friend, "Dude. You will kick that mountains ASS", that reminds me that I get a bit dramatic and then having the conversation end in laughter, is massively helpful.

Fourth, and this is a tough one for me, embrace your imperfections. Stop holding yourself to ridiculously high standards. I need to be willing to mess up, to fail, and then to go at it again. The odds are in my favor that I will eventually succeed, so I really need to stop beating myself up over being human.  

And lastly, I think one of the most important elements to redirecting negative thoughts and neutralizing them is to change their tone. Catch the thought in the moment and reword it. For example, "I won't be able to acclimate to the altitude" is very negative. But the reality is, "I may not be able to acclimate to the altitude, but I've done it before and I know my limits. If I have to turn around and descend, its not the worst thing that can happen and I'll try another day."

So the next time your Gertrude starts causing a raucous inside of your head, tell her to take a steat. Tell her she's done. Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Gertrude!
And then hand her a cactus to sit on. 

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