I recently heard this idea: Instead of getting frustrated, get curious. Oh my god, it was a game changer. It's easy to get frustrated, and it almost always feels justified. But it pretty much never solves anything, and then I have whatever problem got me frustrated in the first place and my frustration to deal with. I created a second problem. It's like getting stuck in the snow and using all that energy from your spinning tires to just get yourself more stuck. Like with any good practice, reacting with frustration just becomes the default, so you have to consciously stop and choose a different way. You have to stop spinning the tires, put the car in park, and get out and assess your situation. And it starts with asking why.
Once again, running is my teacher. I've been running, now, (well, again) for over 4 years. I have gone through all kinds of experiences with this, from building my run ability and feeling all the success of forward movement, to not being able to get through a warm up without stopping. Frustration sounds like this: I shouldn't be stopping! (expletive, expletive, expletive). Why can't I do this? Oh my god, I'm so frustrated! I'm never going to get beyond this struggle. I'm not a real runner. I'm kidding myself with this whole thing. Etc, etc, etc... Ouch. Frustration is basically a giant dump on myself. If I talk to myself like this when I'm running, then do I maybe talk to myself like this in the rest of my life? Because it stands to reason...
Enter my attitude adjustment (Please see "You Need a F**cking Attitude Adjustment" post), and my gratitude growth; both were like yoga for my brain. I started to soften, and all of a sudden I'm struggling with running, but I'm asking myself: Why? Why do you feel like you need to stop? Why did you feel like you couldn't do it? And then, I'm telling myself things like this: What a great opportunity to figure out why you get stuck, in running and in life! Is there a pattern? There might be a pattern. A pattern is like an equation, so you can solve this like a math problem! You've been really consistent. You have to look at how far you've come, and this is just the next step in the process. Do you have negative thoughts about running leading up to your run? Maybe you can visualize fantastic running--so that you can leave your head at home and fully live the run?
These thoughts and this kind of self talk throw the doors wide open to all of the brain science and hope that can actually help, not only getting me unstuck with running, but unstuck in every arena where I'm holding myself back. Once again, I'm literally running to a better, fuller version of me.
Every writer will probably experience writer's block. Every athlete will likely choke or have a period of time that they are so stuck they think they're finished. Every actor will forget their lines under the lights, maybe every lawyer will lose their art of oration for a time during their career. But if we can summon our curiosity, I think these opportunities just might be our big breaks.
As for me, I'm throwing a little sand behind those tires, rocking the car a few times, and I'm down the road.