Turning Self-Criticism to Unexpected Thanks

Turning Self Criticism to Unexpected ThanksA few weeks ago my sister and I decided to run a 5K together. I was hoping this would be a bonding experience between us as running was one of the few things we had in common.

I didn’t expect her to dart out like a dolphin on Red Bull as soon as the starting gun blew! It took only minutes before I could no longer see her bobbing ponytail ahead of me in the merging sea of passing runners.

“She’s always been skinnier than me; that’s why she runs so much faster.” My heart sank. “She’s also prettier than I am, with those baby blue eyes.” Uh oh. My thoughts began a downward spiral into an abyss of self-criticism. “She even has a bigger house than I do….”

By the end of mile one, I was in tears. I felt abandoned and pathetic. “My legs are so short and stubby. If only I were taller and thinner I could run faster.”

By mile two my shoes felt like they had cement in them. The joyful experience I had expected certainly wasn’t transpiring. I was feeling a little embarrassed and knew I had to get my thoughts under control.

Sending Gratitude Out to the Universe

Thankfully, every once in a while the Universe pitches us a fast one and we need to be aware enough to catch it; otherwise it will pass us by. I decided to connect with gratitude to shift my negative thoughts and get my emotions into perspective.

First, I focused on nature – appreciating the blue sky and being thankful that it was not raining. I appreciated the bird I heard screeching in the sky. I noticed a butterfly and thanked it for its beauty.

Then, I began to look at the people running around me. Although I didn’t know them, I sent thoughts of loving-kindness for who they are, for the effort they put in to make it to this event, and for just being alive, acknowledging that they might be someone’s mother, son, grandfather or friend.

Sending Gratitude for Myself

My heart felt lighter and my mood improved. I continued to send gratitude out to the world and then to myself.

I appreciated my strong legs that carried me along the road… my feet that have taken me to so many wonderful places… my heart for pumping my blood, and my lungs for providing the oxygen my body needed. I thanked my ears for hearing the sounds around me.

By the time I reached the finish line, not only did I completely shift my energy to a state of love and gratitude, but I also discovered a new tool to use when I find myself in that ugly place of insecurity or unworthiness.

And although my sister finished the race ahead of me, I am truly a clear winner.


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