Challenging Those “All-or-Nothing” Beliefs

On Friday I had the opportunity to have a conversation with a neighbour of mine that I don’t get to chat with often. I’ve known him for years; his son is in the same class with Lil’ Mo. We see each other in passing every now and again, school events, birthday parties, things like that. We chat about the kids, being single parents, our jobs, and running (he’s a runner, too). We began talking about our own individual barriers to running lately. He’s been experiencing health problems that have prevented him from running for quite some time.

I found myself whining about the weather, the cold dark winter mornings, lack of time and opportunity and my own lack of va-va-va-voom to get myself up and out the door in the morning. And he said, “Y’know, it doesn’t matter how long you run for, even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes. Sometimes the whole point is that you’ve done something, even if it’s something small.”

And the light bulb went on.

I have a real problem with all-or-nothing thinking. When it comes to my running, I’ve allowed myself to believe that unless I get out there for a 5, 10, 15 km run, then there’s absolutely no point in getting out there at all. I have never gone for a run that was anything less than 30 minutes…it’s just seemed pointless to me.

All or nothing.

It’s kind of shitty reasoning, really. It’s a good excuse to sit on my ass and feel rotten about myself rather than actively looking for reasons to feel good. Because truly, if I were looking for reasons to feel good, I’d be out there every single day, doing things that would make me feel good about myself, now wouldn’t I? There wouldn’t be any excuses, there were just be me, out there, doing what needed to be done. And if I didn’t? No guilt, no bad feelings.

What a concept.

And as I sit here tonight, thinking about this friend and his suggestion – “just get out there and do it even if it’s only for 5 or 10 minutes” I know that he’s onto something. And dammit, now that I’ve admitted this, we all know what this means, now don’t we?

Stupid self-awareness. It feels a whole lot easier when I can just bury my head in the sand….

My all-or-nothing method of living has got to come to an end, this I know. Not just when it comes to running, but in all areas of my life. I need to learn to be satisfied with my best efforts, even when those efforts are small. And not just with running, either, but with everything in my life. I need to learn how to be comfortable with the fact that sometimes, all I have in me is something small and just be satisfied with it. (#thatswhatshesaid)

After all, that’s what Badasses do, now isn’t it?

7 Responses

  1. I remember someone once telling me that this is what I do too. And you’re right. Much like my post from today, I find discontent in my contentment. Weird.

    Good stuff…. I think I think like that because I’m afraid of being stagnant for too long, or being satisfied with eh instead of all out. But sometimes, eh is all we have, right?

    • I think it’s important to remember that even a small effort is still effort, which is what I have a difficult time doing. I’m all about going big or going home….problem is, I find myself staying home a lot more than I should. 😉 Which is why I think the solution may be to just sometimes do what’s manageable at the time….because not every single day can be a big one…

  2. Thanks for the reminder! I struggle with this too in a lot of areas. Something to think about.

  3. I can totally relate to this post! My husband has on occasion reminded me that I have an all or nothing mentality as well. Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes it’s very detrimental. I need to work on knowing when the time is right to be “all or nothing” and when a little is better than nothing.

  4. It is so true, it is a tough mentality to break! I get into that habit sometimes too, but if you switch it around, ever so slightly and realize that every effort and goal you work towards is awesome, it’s not just reaching it, it’s all of it, the whole experience. If that makes sense.

  5. Ohhh I soooo fall into the all or nothing trap BIG TIME, especially with running. It is SO hard to get out of my head that it’s totally ok to “just” run a couple of miles, to get the body moving and the spirits lifted. Since when is running (no matter how far or how long) a bad thing?? GREAT reminder post, especially on applying this thinking to all areas of life, not just running…

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