Saturday, September 12, 2015

Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

I just got through week #1 of the new training plan with Fit Sparrow Training and I can't believe I'm gonna say this but I'm loving it!  Jackie has put together a plan for me that not only takes into account my current running level but also my likes/dislikes and what I'm hoping to accomplish.  Each run has been different with a specific purpose and have all been challenging in very different ways.  By far the hardest one so far was Friday's speed work run which was 3x1 mile repeats with a 1 mile warm-up and cool down with 400 meter rest periods between repeats.  You guys, it was sooo hard!  I haven't done mile repeats in almost two years and I've never done more than two in a row so I seriously thought I was going to hurl.  Thankfully I didn't and I had the biggest adrenalin rush when I finished the workout.  Talk about runner's high!

Post-speed work legs

As much as my runs have been going well lately, surprisingly another aspect of my running has been deteriorating.  I've always considered myself very lucky to have an amazing support system of family and friends who encourage and motivate me and cheer me on along the way.  For whatever reason that hasn't been the case this training cycle.  People who I thought cared about me and understood my running have suddenly been a lot more aloof or critical of the decisions I've made this time around and the steps that I've taken to try to achieve a marathon PR.  I've had criticisms about how often I'm running, how far I'm running, where I'm running, how I'm cross training, how often I'm cross training...and the list goes on.  I was shocked, and honestly hurt, that instead of supporting me and encouraging me these people who I cared for were tearing me down.  In their defense, I know they are well intentioned and they honestly want to help me achieve my goal in their own way.  But that doesn't make it hurt or bother me any less.

The reason this is hitting me harder than it probably should is that I've always struggled with the "I'm not good enough" syndrome.  I grew up in a traditional asian environment where being the best was encouraged, if not expected.  For someone who is naturally shy and introverted that made for an atmosphere that fostered a lot of insecurities.  I was never outgoing enough, athletic enough or pretty enough.  The only saving grace for me, in my perception, was the fact that I was smart and successful academically.  That was the only arena in which I received any type of praise.  Now that I've become "the runner" in the family, I've found myself repeating some of the same thought processes and actions that I did when I was younger and comparing myself to others who are seemingly faster, better runners.  It's so silly!

Social media certainly doesn't help the situation.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Periscope, Vine, etc. all show the very best of everyone's daily lives.  Mentally I know that what I see is the highlight of everyone's days and oftentimes it's very much staged to maximize the visual impact.  I get it.  But emotionally I can't help but look at all of the beautiful pictures or posts about amazing achievements and internally compare how my life doesn't measure up.  How I don't measure up.


I'm thankful that I'm self-aware enough to know when my thoughts start becoming negative and belittling.  I catch myself doing self harm in the form of comparing my perceived inadequacies to others supposed superiority.  I'm consciously working on rewriting my internal dialogue and changing my story.  I admit it's a struggle.  It's infinitely easier for me to cheer on and encourage others and see the amazing qualities that they have than it is to see it in myself.  It's mentally and emotionally exhausting, not to mention damaging.  I'm a work in progress.

I debated sharing this.  I didn't want this to feel like a ploy for pity.  The last thing I want is people to feel sorry for me.  I ultimately chose to share my story because I know I'm not the only person who goes through this.  I know others struggle with not only the comparison monster but also unsupportive, sabotaging people in their lives.  I wanted people to know that they're not alone.  Above all else, I wanted to make sure people had a chance to know about the real me and my real life, including my daily struggles, and not just my highlight reel.  This is me, imperfections and all, working on becoming a better version of myself.

Do you struggle with the comparison monster?  Have you ever had anyone in your life who criticized you or made you feel as if your effort/accomplishments wasn't good enough?

3 comments:

  1. Great read sharon, it was almost like you were narrating my thoughts on most subjects you expressed. I hear you on the inferior superior self infliction thing too, especially when your working as hard as you are for your goals. Just keep doing you because only you knows you, and with the end result people will better understand your decisions. Hope to see you out on the trail sometime soon now that I'm back in my routine and nice to see your doing so good. Hope to get Verba out there again lol.

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  2. Great read sharon, it was almost like you were narrating my thoughts on most subjects you expressed. I hear you on the inferior superior self infliction thing too, especially when your working as hard as you are for your goals. Just keep doing you because only you knows you, and with the end result people will better understand your decisions. Hope to see you out on the trail sometime soon now that I'm back in my routine and nice to see your doing so good. Hope to get Verba out there again lol.

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  3. Sharon, I've watched you (from afar) for a year or so. Your constant upbeat attitude and sharing have been terrific motivators for me, so thank you.

    For the past year it seems like I've had one injury after another. I have a fantastic physical therapist, friends from CrossFit, and I even hired a running coach about 3 months ago. With all that, I understand what you're saying here. While my husband has been very supportive there are others (family) who tend to be less so (like you: well-intentioned, but the lack of support is hurtful). It can be difficult to reconcile, and it's a wonderful opportunity for you to be clear in your intentions and express them authentically.

    You are strong, courageous, and a great inspiration. Thanks for keeping it going, and for keeping me going, too!

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