We all have that voice inside us when we are working out. It is the voice that is supposed to get us through that extra mile, up that tough hill, or counts out those last squats for us. We come to rely upon that voice for support, inspiration and motivation.

More often than not however, our inner voice works against us. We listen to it when it is telling us we aren’t strong enough, we are too tired to take another step, or it is too late to get that last minute workout in. Why do we give that voice so much power when it is being more harmful than helpful? More importantly, how do we recognize when our inner motivation has gone astray, and how do we rein her back in?

I have an inner dialogue going through my head during all of my workouts and races. On a good day, I use this voice to push myself to new limits. On a bad day however, I have found I have to put a stop to that inner negativity to keep going. The first thing I ask myself if I think I may be being too hard on myself is, Would I let my best friend talk to me that way? I don’t know if I am alone in this, but I definitely let my best friend be blunter with me than anyone else. Even my husband is jealous about what I will let my best friend get away with telling me, i.e. no, those pants do nothing to make you look as good as they should. I will only get upset if she was saying something just to be mean, and yet I let my inner voice tell me things that I know are not true. So, when I find myself saying things such as there is no way you can finish that hill, I silence that inner voice because she obviously just is having a bad day.

If I find my inner voice being especially persistent in her negativity I then summon up my mom courage. Ask yourself, What would I do if someone was talking to my child like this? If I imagine my inner voice telling my son that he can’t do something I am definitely ready to put a stop to her negativity. I believe there is nothing my son can’t do if he puts in the effort and sticks with it and I tell him this all the time. Yet, when I am inner dialoguing with myself, I am all too willing to tell myself that I am unable to achieve something. We should defend ourselves the same way we defend our children, especially if we are just standing up to our inner-selves.

When our inner voice is being a source of negativity we need to stop and stand up for all the hard work we put in our workouts. Constructive criticism and self-reflection is critical to pushing ourselves to new levels, but we should never beat ourselves down. There are far too many forces in the world willing to do that already. We have to be our biggest cheerleader and sometimes that means having a sit-down with that voice and telling her to get on board with your new positivity campaign. Don’t let anyone bully you into thinking you aren’t strong enough, focused enough, or determined enough, especially when that bully is yourself.

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