Have you ever watched a documentary on Netflix before? It's mine and Raleigh's favorite thing to do on Sunday mornings as we eat breakfast before going to church. Some of our favorites have been Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Muscle Shoals. I just love the stories of how these people do what they were born to do, and do it well, even when they are faced with adversity.
Just recently, we watched a Marvel/ESPN 30 for 30 documentary called 1 for 1: Genesis that explores the connection between elite athletes and superheros (Yes, I'm married to a nerd. You too? Good, then you'll enjoy what I'm about to share.). As they were interviewing all of these incredible athletes like Cal Ripken Jr., Tim Howard, and Brandi Chastain, they all shared how much they loved the sport, practiced consistently, and were driven to make it. But, at the end, the remark that stood out most to me came from Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback for the 49ers. He said something along these lines, "You can train your whole life but if your mind isn't in it, you aren't going to make it."
We know this remark is true. How often have we seen people who we know can achieve greatness but have such trouble with their own insecurities that they just land in mediocrity instead? They fail, not because of their bodies, but because of their heads?
My mind is perhaps the biggest battle that I face every single day. I talk ugly to myself. I doubt myself. I don't always love myself.
Friends, if you have ever found yourself being your own worst critic, do you like how you make yourself feel? Have you ever paused after a horrible mental conversation and think, "Did I really just think that?"
I often wonder why women are so hard on themselves. We criticize our words, actions, appearances. We want to be better at doing our Bible study, working out, and keeping our house clean. We set ourselves to the highest, most unattainable, unachievable standard and then wonder why we get so moody and upset. Ladies, we've gotta stop this if we really want to be on the path of living well.
One idea that I'm beginning to practice is to accept praise from others. I know this might seem weird and a little arrogant, but that's not the point...please hear me when I say that. It's just, most of the people (not all, of course...that's a whole other discussion) that love me speak positive words back to me. When I'm dressed up for Easter or in bed sick as a dog with greasy hair and glasses my husband always looks me in the eyes and tells me how beautiful I am to him. My girls have been so tender with their words to me as they inch closer to five. We will be doing our thing together at home and all of a sudden they will wrap their little arms around me and tell me that I'm the best mommy ever. Instead of just brushing off these kind words, I am learning to receive.
When my mind is weak, scripture reinforces what I know about myself but am failing to apply. One of my favorites is Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
Another way to get myself out of my mental insecurities is to do something fun or do something that I know I'm good at, like playing soccer. The very worst thing I can do is get on social media and compare myself to my Facebook feed or my Pinterest boards. Another thing that always sounds good in the moment but ends up terrible is eating a bowl of ice cream and cookies before bed.
Usually, when my mind is not in a good place, I explode or retreat. Both of these things are not good and hurt the people that love me.
On this pursuit of living well, I try to de-clutter my mind. Here's how:
- First, I say out loud what is bothering me. Usually, I'm alone (please don't think I'm weird!) when I do this but sometimes I tell others.
- Next, I identify the people or activities that are stressing me out or hurting my feelings. I tend to over-analyze things in my head so this helps me work through the specifics of my problems. Usually, I can tell if I'm overreacting or need time to be upset.
- After I do this, I've got lots of choices for how my emotions can go: I can cry, yell, internalize the problem, or place blame. Or, I can give it to God. I know this sounds super by-the-book, but honestly praying helps me feel at peace. Often, I do one of the emotional things first (which isn't good) and then feel guilty about my actions and finally give it to God. As I mentioned earlier, I'm working on this.
Elite athletes achieve greatness because their minds, bodies, and souls are constantly focused on their sport. They make sacrifices for their sport. We might not all be athletes but I do believe that God has great plans for all of our lives. Perhaps, your mind is stopping you from achieving this greatness. Today, let's clear our minds of whatever might be holding us back and let us go forth so we may receive greatness.
During the month of April, we will be discovering what it means to live well. If you'd like to receive extra doses of encouragement for your mind, body, and soul, subscribe to receive our free newsletter in the form below.
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