Reset Your Mindset

Do you believe the things people tell you about yourself? Do you believe the things you tell you about yourself?

A reader of my Shut Up and Run blog emailed me recently. She had been through a tough time and had gained some weight. Feeling out of sorts and depressed, she decided to go for a run to work out some of the stressful kinks. She ran in the woods of Iowa, feeling on top of the world. Then, she rolled her ankle and fell.

Laying there with no phone and two miles from her car, she felt foolish and defeated. Her mind started playing back what people had told her over the years, “You’re not a runner. You’re not athletic. Why do you even try? You aren’t good enough.” She sat in the midst of all of the negativity for a couple of minutes, crying, wallowing. Then a switch went off.

It started as a whisper, but became louder and louder. “I am good enough,” she told herself. For so long she had been allowing the untruths people had told her about herself into her psyche. By accepting those judgments, she had become defeated. She had stopped standing up for herself. Yet, on this day, in this moment of vulnerability, she was done believing the negativity. She had “reset her mindset.”

Reset Your Mindset by Beth RisdonThis story perfectly illustrates the power we have over our thoughts. It lets us know that we can filter not only what others tell us about ourselves, but also what we tell ourselves about ourselves.  I don’t think we’re born with self-doubt, I think we learn it. Over time, we take in negative external messages from parents, peers, teachers, coaches, etc., and decide to believe them. We learn the ways of the world. We start to compare ourselves to others. We decide we don’t stack up. Before we know it, we have decided we’re not good enough.

Self-doubt can crop up about anything and everything. I am not a fast enough runner; I’ll never get my PR (personal record). I am not an effective parent. I am not smart enough to do this job. No one will love me enough to ever marry me. Self-doubt does not have to paralyze you.  There are some steps you can take to stop self-doubt in its tracks:

1. Admit it. Realize the self-doubt is there. Most of us have some degree of self-doubt. For some it is the smallest of whispers and doesn’t lead to inaction, depression or low self esteem. Others, however, operate out of self-doubt and can be immobilized by it.

2. Trace it. Try to figure out why it’s there. Does it rear its ugly head when you run with a friend who is faster than you? Do you feel it most when you go to a mom/baby playgroup? How about when you visit your parents? What triggers the strongest feelings of self-doubt? When you are in those situations, be prepared to notice the self-doubt to tackle it head-on (#3).

3. Tackle it. Don’t take self doubt sitting down. Set up strategies to minimize it.

    • Question it! Are the doubtful feelings true? Not likely. For example, if your Aunt Edna keeps telling you that you will never run a 5K because you are too out of shape and it will kill you, is this true? Not likely. Maybe she needs a lobotomy. Consider the source. Know that some people want to bring you down because they are jealous or they don’t feel great about themselves.
    • Be bold. Challenge the doubt. If you’ve always wanted to run a half marathon, but talked yourself out of it, take the first steps. Find a training program or a coach. Prove yourself wrong. This is the best way to kick self-doubt to the curb.
    • Talk back. Self-doubt thoughts creep into our brains on average 1,560 times a day. Well, maybe not exactly, but the number is probably pretty large. Have a strategy in your head for when this happens. When I was in high school my speech teacher always told me that before I got on stage I needed to tell myself, “You are the queen of the world.” It sounds goofy, but it worked. Sometimes building up your own confidence and getting behind yourself is the best thing you can do.

Awareness is the key to controlling your thoughts. Controlling your thoughts is the key to erasing self-doubt. In the words of the late Henry Ford, “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”


December 21, 2011 at 10:43 am

Oh Beth…best yet! Wonderful article here!!


December 21, 2011 at 10:53 am

Tis the season I think! Perfectly timed article for me. Me, myself and I have been having a LOT of conversations lately! 🙂 Doubt is working me over!


December 21, 2011 at 11:12 am

Oh my!!!! I needed this more today than anything else. I have been beating myself up, have a run in a month and am completely defeated. Thank you, THANK YOU

Jody - Fit at 54

December 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm

LOVE!!! So true & this: Awareness is the key to controlling your thoughts. Controlling your thoughts is the key to erasing self-doubt. In the words of the late Henry Ford, “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”

That says it all! I had a childhood that set me back & I have fought those feelings my whole life… we have to understand them & fight back! 🙂

Eleanor Burns

December 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Thanks! Needed this post. I’m going to attempt my first ever 10 miler to train for my first half. Self doubt is kicking my butt!

Dawn Fritsch

December 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I love this article, and deal with this all the time when I am training people at the gym, so often I hear “I can’t do this or I’ve never been able to do this” and yes at times it’s me saying the words to myself! but every time I ask why not, why not you? If they can you can! and this has become my mantra every time, it has helped many people just cross the start line enough to do things that they never dreamed of!

Linda Bauer

December 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm

This article is fantastic! I am in my mid-50’s and this past year ran my first half marathon ( never considered myself a runner), competed in my state’s Warrior Dash race (afraid of heights), kayaked several times (can’t swim) and climbed steep rocks at local parks. Was I the fastest? Of course not! But the thing is I finished that marathon, scaled those heights, kayaked those miles and climbed those rocks. If you were to tell me one year ago I would be doing all of this, I would’ve said you were crazy. Had it not been for the encouragement of my friends, the staff at my local Y and me believing in myself, I never would’ve reached those goals. The journey still continues for me—-but what a journey!

Kristi from Houston, TX

December 22, 2011 at 6:00 am

Wow! Great Post today Beth.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!

Samantha Donahue

December 22, 2011 at 7:09 am

THANK YOU for this amazing blog. I recently lost my job and am feeling the self-doubt in my head creeping in daily. This truely has helped me see that I am worth something, I just need to get out of my own way and go out there and get it.

Happy Holidays


December 22, 2011 at 8:12 am

Thanks Beth!! I needed to hear this right now:)
I read your blog everyday – keep up the good work.

Amanda - RunToTheFinish

December 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Now I see your thought provoking posts are here and your bodily fluids go on SUAR. I’m kidding, seriously this was just the post that I needed right now.


December 23, 2011 at 7:45 am

Amen! I just wrote about being “enough” in a recent blog post after a friend asked me “What would your life be like if you said to yourself “I am enough. I do enough. I have enough.” – ?

Through rock climbing, I have found that doubtful voice and use climbing to practice the positive reframing voice. I am enough. I do enough. I have enough. Now go for it! After my friend brought up this question, I felt a confidence and inner peace that I have never felt. And boy, the next time I went to the climbing gym, I had my best performance ever!

Rachel M KillianSpry

January 04, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I just can’t say enough about this article. It is so true and a whole book could be written on it. Agree w/Amanda–I needed this one 2 2day. Thanks 4 this….

mary jane

January 09, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I’m the seventh of eleven. So we were raised in a group. I had several parents. Thank God the first several were raised awesome. They so took their older sibling job so well. So in many ways from my parents I was told or encourage to do. Whether it was music, sports, academics, scouts, church etc…
They really didn’t hold us back. I’m not sure it was the shear numbers or the go follow your interest we were never discouraged or told no. SO with my two I hope I encouraged as they shown some interest with our ability to support. Got to love parenting!!!

Leave a Reply