I’ve Always Known I Was Harsh With Myself
It was a hard habit to change until my recent run.
At the beginning of 2021, I started doing Blogilates’s Cassey Ho’s workout. When I need a break from her routine, I would go back to Chloe Ting’s. Fitness Marshall is always there regardless. His colorful personality always makes me laugh. And I just love to dance!
Once in a while, I would run with my husband. His arduous running trail is encompassed by steep hills and seemingly endless flights of steps. I’d run his trail to see where I am in my fitness journey; if my home workouts paid off at all.
I struggle so much mentally every time I run his trail. My mind is at peace whenever the road is flat. But when the road starts elevating, chaos brews in my head. It’s like experiencing The Clash of the Titans cognitively in real-time.
My military sergeant would wake up from her slumber and come to life.
YOU’RE SO SLOW!
WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?! YOU USED TO BE STRONGER!
You used to be able to run! WHY CAN’T YOU DO IT NOW?!
YOU CAN’T DO THIS!
YOU’RE INCOMPETENT AND USELESS.
This is too tough for you. Just give up and WALK!
I would wrestle with these thoughts as I fight to engage my muscles to lift my leg one step at a time. Each step feels heavier like a weight is added on. And with each step I take, my muscles scream in agony. The lactic acid cackles as it rushes to invade my bloodstream. Sharp pains make each step seem impossible to take.
My mind just wants all of it to stop. My heart wouldn’t let me.
But on Saturday, something changed.
The same thoughts bombarded my mind during the grueling trail.
YOU USED TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS! WHY CAN’T YOU DO IT NOW?!
Then a gentle voice whispered.
Change the voices in your head. Make them like you instead.
Instantaneously, my mind clicked and sang a different tune.
You used to be able to do this. So you can now too. How did you do it before back in junior college? You sang as you ran. Your steps were the rhythm to the song.
What song should I sing to?
Headstrong by Ashley Tisdale used to be my JC running anthem. That Saturday, it was P!nk.
It was her lyric that reminded me to be kind to myself.
I started singing her song F***ing Perfect. Or rather, I rapped. If I didn’t take the next step, I couldn’t speak the next line through my shuddered breath. I had to finish the song. And it had to be on repeat till the end of my run. It doesn’t have to be the same song. I just had to keep singing to keep going.
At that moment, I could run better. My mind was less chaotic. I was able to reach the top of the hills without thinking too much about the pain. It was easier to push myself. I might have slowed down but I didn’t slow my steps to a walk. My mind felt a lot lighter and peaceful as P!nk’s song became my anthem for the day.
It was like that girl who used to run at least 2.4km at least three times a week on that endless circular red track thirteen years ago under the scorching sun possessed my mind and body again. Except this time, I’ve upgraded.
Say hi to Cass 2.0.
It’s been a while since I felt this liberated. Liberated from the shackles of my mind. The negative voices in my head. They used to push me to reach my goal. This method no longer works. I have to be gentler with myself.
You’re so mean when you talk about yourself. You were wrong.
And she’s right. I was. The harshness toward myself is not sustainable. I had to change the way I talked to myself. I had to silence the military sergeant in my head. I had to retrain her, relearn about myself, and what motivates me.
Sometimes, we do have to be harsh with ourselves. Not in every matter, but only when it matters.
It’s not that I’ve become thin-skinned. Or maybe it could be because I’ve been so bruised and tender from all the mental punches I’ve been throwing at myself. Or it could be because I wasn’t the person from the past. So I can’t apply the same methods from the past to the present. I had to move with the times.
Yes, even within myself.
I hope this enlightenment doesn’t just stay with that gorgeous, uplifting Saturday.
I look forward to the next laborious run. And this time, I hope the military sergeant in my head would have completed her new training.
The next time I run, it wouldn’t start with demeaning shoutings in my head.
Next time I run, it will start with a word of empowerment and an out-of-pitch inspirational song.
Instagram Life: @justwildcass
Instagram Photography: @casswildcat