Monday, January 16, 2012

12 Changes For 2012 - #9 - Don't Defeat Yourself

There are two phrases that have repeated throughout my life: "You can't do that!" and "Oh, I could never do that!" Either somebody telling me what I cannot do without any thought of encouraging me rather than defeating me, or somebody telling me what they cannot do without a care that they're defeating themselves.

But don't we all do it? Don't we all tell each other what we can't do? Or say how we shouldn't even try? If something is hard, if it takes dedication and patience and practice and grim determination, why do we think it is somehow impossible? Not even worth trying?

A year ago, I'd never competed in a triathlon. Swimming scared the hell out of me. I hated running. Literally, hated it. And I'd never ridden a bike for two miles, let alone 20. I didn't know if I could finish one piece of a triathlon, let alone all three. I had doubts. And I had fears. But every lap in the pool fed me courage. Every mile on the bike quieted the little voices of fear. And during every run on the road I made it through it by telling myself: You can do it. You can do it. You can do it.

I did five triathlons last year. I didn't win any of them, but I didn't fail. I didn't quit. And I didn't accept defeat.

When I tell my formerly-athletic friends, who grew up playing sports and pursuing their own victories, that they should try to get active again, what do they say? "I can't do that." Why not? You're telling me a life long geek can do something a former athlete cannot? When I tell friends or family that they should join me some time, what is their reaction? "I can't do that." Why not? I was the smallest, clumsiest, least fit person they knew, and somehow I'm more capable than they are?

Don't get me wrong. I still try to defeat myself. Every time I run, I think: "You can slow down. You can walk for a bit. You don't have to go so far." Every time I swim, I have to tell myself: "You won't drown. Just breathe. One arm over the other." Every time I bike, I watch the miles and try to figure how much longer until I can stop. I always try to defeat myself in such small ways. But I'm prepared for it. I know it is all a trick. That I can do more. I can try harder. I can chose to do it. Or I can chose to quit.

Don't defeat yourself. You're going to have doubts and fears and want to quit. But don't give into to those voices. Don't chose to quit. And don't let other people convince you to do it, either. They've defeated themselves for years, or else they'd be encouraging you. They're bad enough, but don't defeat yourself.

You can do it. You can do it. You can do it!
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