I like this time of year. Autumn brings so much change in nature. It’s like we’re being nudged to remember there are things we can let go of, and that change can be a good thing in the long run, despite feeling hard in the moment.
As I was running recently something sparked a thought about change. And how changing your mind about something isn’t a bad thing.
The thought came as I spotted a conifer bush which had suddenly erupted bold red streaks of a virginia creeper, it’s summer green leaves normally blended in so well.
I’ve said for a long time that “I can’t run up hills”. That’s the simplified explanation of a somewhat complex belief I hold. Whilst I know that “I can’t” is a limiting thought, for a long time I’ve believed my physical abilities (asthma related) has meant that I’m not physiologically great at running up hill. I’m accustomed to it feeling really hard, and happy to accept this as fact.
But it is actually a truth? Is it a fact that will always be or can it be changed?
What my belief has done is hold me back, and I didn’t realise this until I decided to change my thoughts (and actions) regarding running up hills. In the past I’ve probably been going a touch too fast, tried to run up then needed to walk and rest. This led me to believe I couldn’t run uphill, and resigned myself to walking most/all of the climbs. Then I run the flat bits and the descents.
On my run the other day I wanted to find another way. I wanted to change my attitude and challenge myself. I knew there might be another way and needed to find it.
I thought about what I do when cycling as I approach a hill….I change down a gear and simply accept I will be going slower.
Could I do the same with running?
Why hadn’t I thought of this before?!
It was a real ‘ah-ha’ moment and I was excited.
So I tried this strategy with my running. I was challenging my own thinking – could I run up a hill that I’ve previously resigned myself to walking – if I accepted I’d be super slow and most likely look ridiculous! So I slowed right down, and you know what, it turns out I can run up that hill. The bonus was no-one laughed at me for shuffling upwards at a silly slow pace.
It might not have looked the most elegant of running styles, but by changing my attitude and approaching the challenge from a different perspective it turns out I could run that hill. And the next one. In fact I felt so good that I managed a 5km run without stopping, and it felt great!!
It was really good to change my mind, to change what I believe was something I would ‘always’ live with.
I’ve no idea why I held on to that belief for so long, but I know it’s something we all do in various ways.
My invite for you is to take a moment today, to think about something that you say automatically. A habitual comment you say. Here’s how some of these start:
- “I can’t do….”
- “I’m never good at….”
- “I’ll never be able to….”
Pause and Reflect on your statement.
- Is this actually a truth? Or it is something you believe, which then influences your behaviours?
- What evidence do you have to support your belief?
- Can you find situations when this belief is not always true?
- How does this belief hold you back?
- What will happen if things stay the same?
- What does your ideal situation look like?
- What alternative ways of thinking are there? Write down your thoughts, however crazy they are, and regardless of whether you believe in them at this point.
Deciding to run super super slow that proved that I can run up hills. It caused me to reject my belief. It wasn’t a fact. And I could do things differently. I could change my belief, through changing my thoughts and actions. This in turn has given me evidence, which now gives me confidence to go out and have another go at running up hills.
As I take my daily walks I’m mindful of the changing colour of trees. Some explode into the most brilliant oranges and reds seemingly overnight, others let go of their vibrant green in slow waves barely perceptible on a daily basis. The ground becomes blanketed in a multitude of colours, like warm cosy blankets protecting the earth.
I’m reminded that change comes at different paces for different things (and people).
Sometimes we can be effective at making change so quickly it feels daft that we haven’t changed before. In other situations change will need work, it will require repeated actions to make the change stick and feel like it’s something we own. Old habits die hard, but they’ll only die (and we’ll only change) if we choose to do something about them.
Let me know your “cants” and “nevers”, and let’s see what change we can bring and what good we can add into your life.