As I sat on the kitchen floor blinking back tears, I realized that the thing I had been working towards for the last three months wasn’t going to happen. I was sweaty, I was in pain and I felt defeated. Life has a funny way of upending plans, no matter how hard you work, how much you care or how much you want it. We all experience this; for some it can feel like a daily occurrence. You may have saved some money only to have to drain your account because your car broke down. You planned an outside BBQ in July only to have it rain. Things happen outside of our control all the time.
How do you support yourself better when it hits the fan? How do you move forward without bringing along extra baggage?
I started training for my first marathon at the beginning of the year, running over 300 miles, in rain or pouring rain. I had uttered the phrase, “This is the longest I have ever run” multiple times. Every time I pushed myself further and hit a new milestone, my belief in my ability grew stronger. This was a mental game more than it was a physical game and I was winning.
So, when it became clear weeks before the race my feet were not just sore but injured, it was a hard pill to swallow. The pain was unbearable, and I knew pushing through it could cause more harm than good. At that moment, I could have easily given in to the negative thoughts that can creep into your mind. I could have told myself that I knew I wasn’t capable of completing a marathon or that injuries always got in my way. But instead, I decided to approach the situation differently.
Pushing through the pain is easy for me, it’s not completing something that’s the challenge. I had to shift my mentality and look at this as an opportunity. I started by asking myself, “What is the lesson here?” and “What is inside my control and what is outside of my control?” This allowed me to root back into my “Why” — why I started training for a marathon in the first place.
It’s easy to feel defeated when things don’t go as planned, but it’s important to not make the situation mean something about you personally. If you find yourself constantly having negative thoughts, like “I always mess things up” or “Why can’t I do this right?” try to reframe those thoughts with positive self-talk. Instead, say “I don’t have to have everything figured out right now” or “I deserve the grace and love I give to others.” Feel the emotions, but don’t let them consume you and don’t shame yourself for them either.
How can you give yourself more kindness and grace? Instead of closing off, look to those people you trust who can help you put things into perspective. I can dole out advice all day, logically understand how to tackle a problem, and still need someone to remind me to go easy on myself. Again and again.
Life happens, and you will be disappointed. There’s no avoiding that fact. What matters is how long you sit in that disappointment. It can only define you if you let it. Remember, not everything is within your control. When things don’t go as planned, ask yourself what aspects of the situation you can control and what you cannot.
It’s important to recognize the progress you’ve made, even if you didn’t achieve the end result you were hoping for. I mean, how amazing is it that I was able to run 18 miles? I don’t want to throw away that accomplishment just because it wasn’t more. Give yourself credit for the time and energy you invested and use that experience to inform your future goals and plans. Treat yourself like you would a friend.
Remember, when things don’t go as planned, it’s not a reflection of your worth or abilities. Take time to process your emotions, surround yourself with supportive people and see it as an opportunity for growth and learning. And never forget to give yourself the kindness and grace you deserve along the way.
As for me, I am still planning on running a marathon. The goal line just shifted for me. It’s not a failure, just a change of plans. And that’s OK. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, but it’s how we handle those moments that define us.
Arissan Nicole is a certified life coach and speaker specializing in women’s empowerment. She lives in Lakebay.
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