Saturday, January 14, 2012

Throw that log on the fire

How do you deal with the negative crap in your life?

You know what I am talking about -- those comments from a friend or family member, or my personal favourite, a complete stranger in regards to your training. I don't know what it is about training that brings out the strangest qualities in people....

Every gym has one of those guys...the guy that will come up to you and tell you what you should be doing, how everything you are doing is wrong, etc. More often than not, this sort of advice is totally off the mark and WRONG. We've all experienced it!

I used to get sucked in and engage the person and try to explain why I was doing things the way I was doing. This course of action never ever works. Because whoever (whomever?) is giving you so much unsolicited and let's face it bad advice, is uninterested in rational conversation.

He/she is only interested in hearing themselves talk and being told how right they are. It doesn't matter what you say or do...this type of person will not stop picking apart and criticizing you. God could come down out of the sky and throw a thunderbolt into the ground beside the person, and still, he/she would continue to ramble on about how you are:
  • not gliding enough in the water
  • gliding too much in the water
  • look completely uncomfortable in the water
  • biking hills the wrong way
  • running in a poor style
  • blah, blah, blah

It goes on and on.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have a number of people in my life who know squat about triathlon but who are on my side. People who want to see me succeed. Like my fellow Masters swimmers in Pincher Creek -- I have one friend who has stopped me during warm up in the middle of the lane to point out I was reverting back to a stroke flaw I am working hard to correct.

Some of you might be reading this and think -- "WTF? If someone stopped me mid-lap (length? I still don't know which is which! lol) I'd go from simmer to boil in 2 seconds flat!"

The question then becomes, how to distinguish between the two types of people? Is it just me and my perceptions (ie ego) that are labelling people either "friend" or "foe?"

I've given this a lot of thought and here is what I have come up with...

YES there are two different types of people.

YES, sometimes it is just my emotions and ego getting in the way.

When I remove my emotions from the equation, things become much clearer, much faster. Now, for those of you who know me, removing my emotions from ANYTHING is a task unto itself! I've always been hyper. My default reaction is to laugh. I get really excited about anything, really fast. Like turning up the volume dial to 10 as fast as you can. That's me in a nutshell.

I take everything personally. My heart is on my sleeve. I can't lie -- well I can, but it is so embarrassingly obvious that it will make you cringe if you see me in action.

Fortunately, I can change. ;) Occasionally I hop off the hamster wheel of habitual responses and learn from my mistakes! YAY!

It was during one such sojourn off the hamster wheel that I developed an effective strategy in dealing with my emotionally-fuelled responses.

I call it The Objective Observer (TOO). He/she doesn't even have a gender -- that's how obective he/she is! lol. The TOO inside myself looks at any situation without the muddying interference of emotions. TOO gives me clarity. Oh yes, it really does work. :D

Let me give you an example...

"Why is your coach having you do so much training? You are doing way more than (insert name of any person that is faster than me)." -- Subtle as a sledgehammer here, eh?

Before TOO, I would start defending my coach, my coach's plan, myself. Not realizing that all the while, I was watering this negative seed with self-doubt and helping it grow.

Now, my reaction is to smile and nod. It works every time. People shut right up as soon as you agree with them. Its funny to see how quickly the diatribe stops when you agree with someone. The picture that comes to mind is of the Road Runner spinning his legs so fast but not going anywhere.

So, if you ever hear me get quiet and then agree with you over'll know you've just been TOO'ed. Heh-heh-heh.


runningman said...

ha ha I sure don't have that problem Julie, I'm not nearly as friendly and engaging as you. I'm all Mr. focus, people go out of their way to avoid me. If I did ever engage someone I would more likely be the one handing out advice. I was a little tempted to yesterday when I overheard someone on a treadmill saying how they or someone they knew would wrap themselves in saran wrap, put on three hoodies and then go out for a run in the summer time I think it was till they pass out. LOL, but where do you start with something like that. I just chuckled to myself.

Julie said...

Darryl -- Hahaha -- overhearing that conversation -- WHOA. I think people avoid you because you look like Dexter (right before he kills someone) when you run. LOL. At least when you are KILLING it in a half mary! :):)

KK said...

You said it when you said any attempt to rationalize with the offender is futile because they arent interested in what you have to say and are just talking to hear themselves talk. I like you're approach of smiling and nodding. I hope there Are subtle hints of condescension in your smile! :)

Theia said...

There's definitely a difference between a kind person who genuinely wants to help you and an egocentric person who thinks they know more than everyone else. Embrace the former and ignore the others!

Julie said...

KK -- I remember reading a blog post of yours a long while ago in which you described some dude asking to give you swimming advice and then you replying, "No." lol.

Theia -- Totally bang on! I guess I could have shortened my blog post substantially by asking you to summarize it for me. Hahahaha!