This morning I ran in a Half Marathon. That is nothing remarkable in itself, as I am training for a full marathon the end of October. What is encouraging is I ran the entire thing - I have a habit of defeating myself mentally towards the end of a race when I am getting tired and then walking quite a bit of the last few miles as I tell myself that I can't possibly run all the way to the finish line.
This morning I knew logically that I could easily complete the race as I had run 22 miles the weekend before. When I felt some fatigue, I focused my attention on what I was doing at that minute. For the entire race, I was using a formula of running 4 minutes, walking 1 minute. When I felt fatigue and ensuing discouragement, I would say to myself, 'you can run 4 more minutes' rather than getting get caught up in a debate with myself over the three or four miles still to go.
The applications of this in life jump out at me.
When a goal seems overwhelming, chunking it into steps really helps - four minutes seems doable when 4 miles is daunting. I am currently participating in a Visioning Project with an Art Quilt Organization. A number of us have set a goal for the next twelve months and laid out steps to acheive that goal. Each step is a chunk and brings us a little closer to our goal.
Focusing on four minutes rather than 4 miles brings me into the present moment. Fear and negativity often occur when we focus upon the past (a bad experience previously) or the future (what might happen, particularly based on past experiences), rather than on what is the current state of affairs (I am tired but definitely still can run).
When we chunk ourselves with mini-steps forward, we begin to let go of negativity. Tools such as the Three Deep Breaths not only help us come up with some positive thought but actually repattern our brains into adapting these new thought patterns.
Did I remember to the Three Deep Breaths this morning? A little, maybe next time, even more!
Have a great week!