Wellness Pearls

12 April 2016

Tiny Shift, Big Impact

The only way to reduce ugliness in the world is to reduce it in yourself
-Bayard Rustin

A few years ago I decided to challenge myself and complete a 100-mile bike ride. I had been training for months, outfitted on a new bike with a computer that tracks speed and mileage.  On the day of the ride, I felt unsure as I got in line to begin, but the 8,000 other riders surrounding me boosted my confidence. A couple of hours into the ride, I noticed my mile marker calculated that I had gone only 18 miles, I started to do the math and realized, at that rate, I wouldn’t be done and off the bike for another 10 hours, well after dark.  Upon this realization, my inner critic ignited. I went off on an unchecked rant of negative self-talk. The thoughts were immediate, harsh, cruel and unrelenting.

Who do you think you are? 

You can’t do this.

You are incompetent and weak.

Blinking back tears, I was having a malicious conversation with myself that I would never dare have with another person.

Three hours into the ride, my distress was escalating. I was looking for a way out,  a van to drive me to the finish.  Suddenly, a woman came up from behind to thank me. She had been drafting me for miles. Then she remarked that we were only two miles from the ½ way mark. Hearing that simple statement, that I was at mile 48 and not mile 24 as I had believed, changed everything in my mind.

My bike computer was way off. I was going to finish in six hours as I had initially planned. Once my inner critical voice was silenced, I was able to direct my energy to the right place. The shift was sudden and dramatic, but the only thing that changed was my mindset and self-talk.  I was elated. I rode strong and happy for the rest of the ride.

Imagine if we could regularly challenge our assumptions about ourselves in this way. It is possible to recognize and shut down our inner critic immediately.  Turning off my inner critic had a powerful impact on my whole being. My body, my energy level, my confidence and the entirety of my experience were fundamentally changed. Our thoughts are not always the truth.

If you want to join me for a very flat and scenic 100 (or 62) mile bike ride on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, October 8, 2016 September click here.

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