This last week has been full of moments that – on their own – don’t even make me flinch in terms of my mental state. But – I’ve been nursing a wounded self-image for a week or two so every little moment that could be previously ignored has weakened my status and I find myself waking up this Monday just SICK AND TIRED of being so down on myself all the time. I’m sick of hating myself for various reasons. I don’t know why I do this, fall into these rabbit holes of self-induced misery, but I do it. I get further and further away from the light and I just wallow in disgust with myself as a Mom, as a Wife, and as a Woman. And this morning I founnd myself just really PISSED OFF at myself.
Have you been there?
But seriously. The little things. Comments that would previously be seen as innocent, or coaching that would normally be inspiring — these things now send me into spirals of self-doubt where I convince myself that everyone thinks I’m slovenly and inadequate.
And of course…I nurse my bruised ego with food and bad television. I don’t run. Or ride a bike. Or swim. Or do BodyPump. Nope, I grab another ice cream sandwich and add fuel to the fire.
I had to do a swim this morning. Swimming is the new Biking in my life. I’m feeling better about the bike but OH MAN do I feel lousy about my swim. This weekend’s Open Water training swim ended with me in tears all the way home. I did NOT want swim this morning.
But here’s the thing. I did want to swim this morning. I like swimming. This surprises me as much as anyone, but if you take other people out of the picture and just stick me in water and tell me to swim, I really enjoy it. But the second there’s another set of eyes out there…and there always is because of those DAMN LIFEGUARDS…then I start feeling like a total ball of anxiety and nerves.
I pulled into the Y lot at 4:50am. The pool opens at 5am. There were so many people there early that I convinced myself they were all swimmers and I’d have to share a lane and my partner would hate me and…THAT’S IT. I’M GOING HOME.
And I was one key turn away from leaving. But…I took a deep breath and gave myself a pep talk and I headed in. There was a very nice lady in the locker room that I turned into some sort of judgmental swimming snob just because she said, “Good morning!” She’s not going to want to share a lane with me…
(DO YOU SEE HOW CRAZY I AM?)
Turns out, the entire hour I was there, I never had to even think about offering someone half of my lane. The lanes were full, never over full. But still, every time I got a mouth full of water, or lost my breath after 25m, I assumed the teenage lifeguards were making fun of me. So…I decided to give myself some therapy as I swam.
My first attempt went like this:
Kim…You NEVER, EVER, EVER, make fun of people who are trying their best at something. What in the world makes you think these people would do that? You are incredibly narcissistic if you think they are even giving you and your swimming a second thought.
But…here’s the thing. I know people who make fun of people. I’ve been in the company of people who mock others. There are entire websites dedicated to photographing strangers so the entire internet can make fun of them. People post Vines of people in public behaving embarrassingly. The fact that Ridicule = Entertainment in our society is not one that needs to be proven. IT IS A FACT.
So…I tried another technique.
Kim…Worse Case Scenario…there are people at this pool right now either laughing at you in their heads, or making fun of you with their friends. How in the Hell does this have any effect on your life?
Good point, therapist self. So, that’s what I went with. Every time I got embarrassed about my swim I thought, “Even if they are mocking me, It has no effect on my life whatsoever.”
Here’s the funny thing. In that pool today? I was probably the second most skilled swimmer at certain times. There were SEVERAL people who had a lower skill level than I did. Why I always feel like I’m the worst in the room is beyond me.
I swam 1200m. It took me an hour to do it because I was trying to ONLY do Freestyle and just stop and take breaks instead of doing a “recovery stroke” which is what I do when I’m in an actual race. And honestly? My technique isn’t awful by any means. I don’t cross my center line. I breathe on both sides. I reach. I turn. I’ve definitely made HUGE strides in the last month and when I’m in the comfort of my own home, alone, I know that. But the second you put me around other people my confidence and my pride just dissolves away and I end up in tears.
Maybe my crappy self-confidence should be handled like a recovery program. One step at a time. Instead of constantly allowing myself to think negatively and throwing myself down these pits of despair, maybe I should take it one thought at a time. When I feel myself getting down on myself during a swim…give myself a pep talk in that moment before it spins out of control. Face the demons every time they show their head so I don’t wake up one morning after a bad week feeling like the lousiest person on the planet.
So…I’ll give it a try this week and hope this week is a better one. I’ll face those demons one at a time and knock them away with whatever logic I can muster.
What about you? Do you wallow in your own self-doubt sometimes? How do you knock yourself out of it?