Of knots and nots

I can never just approach something new with a “what happens is what is going to happen” attitude. In my mind, knowledge, precision, and planning swirl about conjuring up a seemingly endless assortment of scenarios. I am a pretty anal retentive person. This is both a weakness and strength to me. I am getting pretty good at exploiting my traits when they are a strength and minimizing them when they are a weakness.

Five weeks ago I started a Couch to 5K training program. As predictable as I could be, I began immersing myself in running web sites and discussion forums. I also discovered John “The Penguin” Bingham and his books. You can find my reflections on his latest book in an earlier post on this blog. I am a fan of his running philosophy and writing style.

I often file away quotes that I find inspirational. I found many in John Bingham’s writings. I suppose each of us can relate to certain individuals and what they have to say. It stems from how similar the person is in thoughts to you or how similar their thoughts are to what you want to be and achieve.

“That sense of release from the bondage of my past, of clearing away the memories that served no purpose but to keep me chained to an image of myself that was no longer true, happened to me over and over again in the” early years. It was as if I were undoing all the emotional knots-and “nots”-that were holding me back.”

The above quote comes from John Bingham’s book, An Accidental Athlete. I find myself thinking about the quote’s applicability to my life in many ways. It may have been penned in a book about running, but it holds water in a larger context; how to live your life to the fullest and develop yourself to be all that you can be.

The Nots

Not is a word which I am all too familiar. In my precise and meticulously managed life, I easily find imperfections that give me opportunity to add that word into my vocabulary. I am not a runner. I am not the best cyclist. I am not the perfect weight loss surgery patient. I am not the person to ask for advice. I am working on ridding myself of these nots. I don’t need to qualify most of my conversations with a not.

These types of nots have an awful lot to do with self-esteem. Liberal use of not lowers your self-esteem and stunts your ability to grow. I am not saying that you should stop using not. You just need to use it when it really applies. I am getting better about acknowledging my abilities and tooting my horn when I get a chance. Valuing myself portrays a more positive image that leads people to value me as a confidant and friend.

The Knots

The nots with a “k” are sneaky little devils. You don’t find them easily in your writing and speech. They are there, mostly implied in your tone and message. They are as just a powerful limiter as the nots. For me, they manifest themselves in experiences from my life that haunt the back of my mind. They do find their way into exerting control over my current life and actions.

I am like Pavlov’s famous dogs. I learned how to live life by reward and punishment. It is the punishments that linger as knots. I learned not to participate in sports when I was chosen last in childhood teams. I learned that I was pretty smart and was able to excel in math and science. I pigeonholed myself into a life that grows by maximizing rewards and avoids situations that penalize me.

I am now breaking those Pavlovian knots. It is a much harder thing to do than rid my vocabulary of not. It takes real effort and a change in mental state. Challenging the knots in the dark recesses of my mind allows me to break the barriers that keep me from going forward and growing. Most sports minded people know that living on the edge and challenging yourself is key to becoming a stronger athlete. I want to live more on that athlete’s edge of comfort.

I am on my way to erasing the nots and knots from my life. I challenge you to follow me to a not-less and knot-less life.

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