Don't Make It a Crisis Until It's a Crisis
I am an expert worrier. I always have been. I, in fact, come from a long line of worriers. "What if?" might have been my first question as a child.
I'm really not lying. But lately, I've been trying to knock this worry stuff down- you know, live in the now, breathe, and adhere to other advice that my wonderful yoga teachers give me. Take today for instance. Today, I ran a marathon. Now, I'm not new to marathons - today's was actually my 28th marathon, so I know a thing or two about how to prepare, how to run one, and what to expect. But all of this knowledge doesn't mean that my monkey mind shuts up for the course of the run. NOPE. My mind actually spirals out of control, and worries about everything- from the run to my job to saving for retirement to things that happened in the past. It's a regular shit show, folks.
So on this particular day, it didn't help that the weather was less than ideal (30-40 mph winds, with rain clouds threatening), my stomach was a mess, and my iPhone battery was dying, meaning I couldn't listen to music or text- two things I rely on to get me through my races. In addition, I was really trying to qualify for Boston - so I didn't want to take the run lightly. I wanted to give it my all.
Now. I realize that the issues I faced today were very, very low in the grand scheme of things - very low on the list of world problems. Yet, we all have issues in our own worlds, and today those were mine. So, I ran with them, both literally and figuratively. While I was having an overall good run, I was teetering on freak out mode for much of the first 17 miles. "What if the winds really picked up and one of the mile markers came flying in front of me?" "What if there was a tornado?" "What if I had to use the porta potty 67 times, what would that do to my qualifying time?" "What if my left pinkie toe indeed split open like it felt it was going to?" "What if I didn't finish... whether due to passing out from dehydration, hypothermia, or just got sick of running" ?Note that these were all things I considered possible throughout the course of my run.
Bottom line, I had a lot of what if's running through my mind, until finally I had a come-to-Jesus, moment, marathon-style. Every crazy thought I was having wasn't a reality - they were possibilities, yes - but they weren't true at that particular time. Yet, my crazy mind was making the mole-hill hills (I do need to mention that this particular marathon was also riddled with hills) into mountains. I was catapulting every worry I had into reality, therefore removing me from a place of semi-normalcy to the various outrageous situations my mind was creating. Note that I also had the realization that I tend to do this kind of thing in real life too.
Not a cool place to be. I'm not sure exactly what mile I had this revelation, but somewhere along those 26.2 miles, the thought occurred to me, "Don't make it a crisis until it's a crisis." In other words - CHILL (the bleep) OUT.
So, I did that. And while that sentiment didn't cure me of my aches and pains, it did propel me forward. I straightened up. Corrected my form, and decided that as long as I was out there and not in crisis, I was going to run like I wasn't in crisis. And guess what?
I felt better. So I ran better. This combination helped me achieve my goal time and qualify for Boston. I credit my success to my version of a PMA (positive mental attitude), which I call the DFO (don't freak out) mindset. There's magic to be found when we simply trust in our abilities, the universe, and the notion that things generally do work out the way they are supposed to. There's magic in not freaking out, folks.
So, next time you find yourself in the middle of a marathon that's not going well, or a day that you think has the possibility to go south, try changing your tune. Or at least your thoughts. Breathe. Trust. And don't make anything a crisis unless it becomes one.