Welcome to this week’s installment on building confidence, which is a product of conversations with my friend G, the 14 year old soccer player.
To begin his sermon on post-Easter living, our pastor defined PERSPECTIVE for us. He said that perspective was a way to view situations, mentally, spiritually, and of course, physically. Perspective is a mental and spiritual focus of the mind and heart.
A shift in perspective changes everything. It reminds me of what my mother would say if I started the day on a bad note, which was oftener than I’d like to admit.
Don’t let this ruin your day.
I can still see her eyes trying to reel me in, her hand on mine, reminding me: I have a choice. That was the other thing she said: “People make choices, Jennifer.”
She’s right, of course. She’s always right.
Ten miles with my best E and I was struggling. The wind. The chaffing. The stupid river. My stupid knee. She? She was doing just fine, and I resented her long legs and lead figure.
As I drove home, ruing my horrible performance, deciding again that I sucked at everything, that i’m too fat for running, that I’m slow and plodding and dumb, it popped into my head: “Take every thought captive.”
It’s easy, really, and you don’t even have to believe in the Bible to do it. This means to acknowledge our thoughts and weed out the chaffe. To hold up to the light the things we say and believe, and decide whether they’re worth keeping.
It’s really about lies and truth.
I learned this trick from a therapist. I told her it was stupid. She smiled at me. She said, “It feels fake, doesn’t it?”
I nodded. Maybe I cried a little. So what?
She told me that to take every thought captive, I had to write down what I said to myself, and then write down an opposite. So, if I wrote “I’m not good enough,” the alternative would be, of course, that “I’m valuable.” I felt like I was lying to myself because I had swallowed whole the giant lies. She told me to keep looking at the opposites, to keep focused on them. Now these were big, life long lies and it took me lots of time to barf them up and swallow the truth.
But we can do the same thing with performance, whether it’s soccer or public speaking or shaking hands with strangers.
I do a little mental exercise. When I hear myself say, “You suck,” I have at least two choices. I can either agree or disagree.
Do I suck? No. But that’s not enough. I have to whittle away another layer.
Did that run suck? Yes. And another layer.
A bad run does not make me a bad person. It makes me a person. Just as much as a good run does not make me whole. Although it certainly feels better.
I run through the list. For every thought, I decide what’s true, what’s not and what to do about it. For every lie, I find the truth. I am not too fat for running. There is no such thing. I am not plodding and slow. I am moving.
Over time, we can identify the lies so fast, they have no time to hunker down and weave into our fabric. We can flick them out with a mere fingertip.