Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wimp: A meditation.

"Wimp" is one of those words that starts to lose its meaning if you say it over and over and over: wimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimp wimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimp. I realized tonight that this word has had a strange power over me, for my entire life -- just about every athletic experience I've ever had has been defined by it. Either I've been fighting against the word, or succumbing to it:

Wimp: my entire childhood, when the other kids seemed naturally strong and coordinated - I was the only one who couldn't climb the rope, make it over the wall, or run the full length of the field without having to stop and gasp for air.

Wimp: 9th grade, when I was the worst player on my soccer team, because I was afraid of getting kicked. (I watch my daughter and her friends in awe at their physical bravery!) I didn't join the team again the following year.

Not Wimp: playing basketball in my early 20's, with the guys from the 'hood in Brooklyn - I felt great mixing it up under the boards.

Not Wimp: a 4-day solo hike across Isle Royale, on the tough rocky Minong trail - the whole summer I was a park ranger (this was 1987) I'd heard terrifying tales of it, and finally decided I had to do it.

Wimp: the hundreds - thousands - of times over the years I've said 'I am going to work out today' and then found a reason not to do it.

Wimp: age 30-something, visiting my distinctly non-wimpish friend in Cape Cod on Memorial Day weekend, she and her equally macho husband leap into the frigid surf and laugh and me for not having the guts to jump in too.

Not wimp: training for a triathlon and doing it. But - wimp: needing the boat to paddle along side me so I could finish.

Wimp: tonight. I decided to take a dance class on Thursday nights and tonight was the first one. I used to dance seriously, but other than Pilates I haven't done much dancing in nearly a decade. But between the class and yesterday's weights and core workout, I was tired and sore. I ate too much dinner (my eating lately is the subject of another whole post) and decided to go home. But, then:

Not Wimp: at the last second, I turned into the parking lot instead of driving on by. And:

Wimp: sat in my car for 5 minutes thinking about whether to go home after all. I was cold and the pool has been much cooler lately. Somehow:

Not Wimp: I reminded myself why I had signed up for this club - that I want to get better at swimming for a reason. So walked into the building, and stood alone in the locker room, feeling how cold it was. I was the first one there, and I hoped nobody else would show up. But they did and shamed me (nicely enough) into not wimping out. I got in the pool, muddled along for 30 minutes, freezing all the while. Then in a sprint, I reinjured the hamstring I've been trying to baby along. (By the way, no race this weekend, and maybe not next weekend -I don't want to make this worse.) So I got out 15 minutes early, hit the showers and went home. Wimp.

I am a big believer in reframing - that technique where you realize that the way you have been looking at a situation is not serving you, so you change your beliefs about it. For example, every time you say "should" to yourself, you turn it into "could" - just about ever sentence in which it appears is so much gentler and kinder that way!

So how can I reframe this wimp/not a wimp dichotomy? Nobody else thinks of me that way - why must I view myself through such a harsh, unforgiving lens? Where did it come from?

Or, how about this: wimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimp ... I should keep saying it til it loses all meaning - so it will lose all its power over me.

2 comments:

LBTEPA said...

I try and apply the rule that I won't accept anything from myself that I wouldn't accept if it was said to me by another person. If someone said you were a wimp, wouldn't you tell them to drop dead? Be your own friend.
Whatever you were getting out of calling yourself a wimp before isn't working for you any more, which proves you're changing and growing. It's an adolescent taunt and you're an adult woman who faces her fears and then chooses her response.
Here endeth the lecture LOL

JoAnn - NL "My digital eyes" :) said...

hahaha wimpwimp wimp wimperdewimp wimp wimp ....it works wimperdewimp!:) LOL