Listen to yourself….I had lunch the other day with an old friend. We talked about the many self development programs we have taken over the years.
He helped me remember one of the most profound insights I’ve ever had. One particular program incorporated a ropes course and other physical challenges as a way to assist the experience. One exercise was called the morning run, we would get up every day at 6 AM and run 1 mile. The trail we ran on started on flat ground, turn to a very steep uphill run and then to very steep downhill run, ending up where we started on flat ground. The difficult part of the run was that our instructions were to run full out or stop. No jogging, no walking, just running full out or stopping until we finished. Lining the trail were a crowd of assistants cheering us on as we went bye.
It was quite a difficult even though I had been in relatively good shape prior to coming for the week. Mostly I thought to myself how crazy it was that we could only sprint or stop for the whole mile.
As soon as we finished we to a hall to have a long conversation about what had happened. The realization I had was, what a prisoner I was to my mind. The discussion brought up the dynamic that we all live in called, when we experience difficulty or pain we use that as an excuse to stop. That morning I said things to myself like this is stupid, what is this supposed to prove?, My legs hurt I can’t go on like this, what I got to see was that we can think what we think, feel what we feel, have whatever opinions we have… And still keep going. I noticed for the very first time in my life how much I talk to myself and how much that rules what I can or cannot do.
The first day I think I did the run in about 20 minutes. The second day, after noticing what I was using to stop me, I completed the run in less than 10 minutes. There is no physical reason how that could happen, cut my time in half in 24 hours. The only thing that changed was that I could hear what I was saying to myself and not pay attention to it. I was the one giving that conversation power over me. I could be tired, my legs could hurt, I could think it was stupid exercise… And still keep going.
That one exercise has changed the rest of my life.