Most of us have had experiences of an inner negative or critical voice sounding out loud and clear in our minds . As a runner you may also have experienced that voice turning more insistent and louder the harder you work. It can be a real drain on your motivation and to top it off, you might give yourself a hard time for lacking willpower.

If that sounds familiar, you probably want to read on and gain a somewhat different perspective. Begin first of all, by getting curious about the intention of your critical voice. What is it really trying to do? To get you to stop, right? Although it appears counter intuitive, in most cases that critical voice that is giving you such a hard time, is really there to keep you out of harm’s way. It wants you to avoid pain, avoid straining of the heart, lungs, muscles etc., to keep you out of danger.

Generally speaking our brains are wired to maximise pleasure and minimise pain (might explain why many of us crave chocolate much more that kale!!!). When you are pushing yourself physically by e.g. running, alarm bells start ringing in your head, waking up other parts that will “encourage” you to stop. Parts like your self-doubt and limiting beliefs. It is their voices that eagerly and repeatedly shriek “you haven’t got what it takes” or “I can’t do this – I am not strong/slim/good enough to be a runner”.

Instinctively you may be tempted to shout back at the voices or make efforts to ignore them, but often, as seen in human relationships, it hardly ever leads to a pretty outcome. Instead, give some attention to your own experience and your thoughts, it will allow you to pace yourself and feel less in conflict, more relaxed and congruent. So put on your hat of compassion and acknowledge that the intention of the voices is to keep you safe. From there it becomes possible to calm them down by saying “Thank you for looking out for me, but all is well, I am well, I am safe, you don’t need to shout”.

Bring additional calmness and a sense of control back to yourself by remembering why you have chosen to run and why it matters to you, that you keep going. Remind yourself that you are doing this because of the positive physical benefits it brings, because you want to be a role model to others, because you want more vitality and energy in your life or because you wish to take more responsibility for your own health. It will unquestionably allow you to go that little bit further every time until you reach that magic point where your brain decides running equals (mostly) pleasure.

Enjoy your running.

Note: If you find your critical voices have an overwhelming presence or debilitating effect on your life in general, look up an experienced NLP practitioners in your area or get in touch with us.

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