Victory Over the Voices

As a veteran perfectionist and procrastinator (one tendency feeds the other), I am in constant battle with myself to actually do the things I know I want to do. This includes getting out the door for a workout. I don’t know about you, but I have powerful, wheedling, nagging voices in my head that endlessly try to coax me out of doing the right thing. They speak my language and know just what to say to talk me out of the goals I set for myself. Looks like conditions aren’t quite optimal. You don’t have the time to do that whole distance. It’s okay to let things slide. I’ll do it later. I’ll do it tomorrow.

A lot of times, those voices defeat me. I end up ducking a planned workout. I don’t read that book on my nightstand and veg out in front of the TV. I put off editing a manuscript that is running late. I avoid a difficult phone call. I don’t floss. 

For me, running is an important part of my mental health maintenance. It’s not just about the kick from the endorphins and perspiration and oxygenation. It’s also the small victory every completed workout represents over those voices who just want me to do nothing, try nothing, accept defeat, give up. It’s a chorus of internal negative blather that just won’t quit. Really, you have to admire their stamina. It’s pretty amazing how determined those voices are, how terrific they are at tearing me down.

It’s reassuring to post a W in that daily battle against them, even though I know they will be back the next day. And I tell myself that defeating them one day is the best way to give myself strength and confidence to take up the fight against them again the next day. 

But through much experience, I’ve also discovered the danger of chalking up a particularly sweeping victory over them one day—cranking out some unusually big effort and achievement. This gets me feeling cocky and over-confident, creating the perfect conditions for a resounding defeat the next day. If I’m not very careful, a big win one day can also becomes an excuse to do nothing the next day. Put your feet up. Take it easy. You deserve a break today.

For the most part, measured steps and consistency is key, so as not to let myself lose momentum the day after days when everything is going great.

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