Mental Health Monday

The Equilibrium

In everything, there is an equilibrium. For each force, there exists a counterforce. Remember this as we read on.

I’m a runner, amongst other things. This means that (you guessed it) I run. Running is hard both physically and mentally. Your body protests what you’re doing and your mind screams against every step you take. It’s HARD. But that’s great! That level of difficulty, physical and mental, is what drives me to continue pursuing it.

Running today, I tripped over a realization (and that’s why I run). It was hot. First hot day all year and it clocked in at 81 degrees Fahrenheit. And, lucky me, it was humid too. FUN. I was fresh off a 2-hour workout that mixed strength and cardio, a kind of interval training. Taking only a small break in between for food, I was really pushing.

“NO” flew at me from all angles. My mind didn’t want to and it was determined to find a reason why I shouldn’t lace up. Let me tell you, putting the shoes on is the hardest part. I’ve never taken my shoes off once they’re on because I owe it to the shoes, I’ve gotten this far. don’t deserve to take them off. 

Well, I laced up. And then my mind still tried to convince me not to run.

“You’re tired.” “You’ve done enough.” “Feel that stitch? That’s because you shouldn’t be running.” “Just walk home.” “You’ve done enough.”

It was the repetition of the last line that really got to me. No. I had not done enough. I set out to run five miles and my body, aside from one stitch, could easily run those five miles. My mentality was ruining it for me. Running five miles could have been a breeze, according to my body’s condition, but my mind did not want to push itself to be motivated, to let the positivity in, and to endure another chunk of time spent focusing and disciplining the flesh.

I came to run and I was going to run, regardless of what my mind thought.

So off I went, running hard and pushing myself harder. But I felt good, I felt great! As the endorphins kicked in and my elusive runner’s high approached, I started thinking about the negative voice in my head. Why was it still chattering away if it knew I was going to keep pushing myself? Why didn’t I hear the positive voice, was it not strong enough?

Two discoveries from these questions:

  1. The positive voice came in the form of continuing to run, ignoring the negativity, and physically pushing myself.
  2. I did hear the positive voice. And it was equally as strong.

This is where the equilibrium comes into play.

For every negative blip on your radar, there IS an opposing positive blip. Do we see this? No, not often. Is it hard to acknowledge? Yes, quite often.

This is in part because the negative is concrete and easy to note. The opposition to the negative is less quantifiable.

Most of the time, our negativity comes in the form of a demeaning voice in our head. Our positivity doesn’t come in the same way though. We chide ourselves, discourage ourselves, and sometimes stop what we’re doing altogether, but they are still concrete actions and sounds. We see that we have stopped. We hear the negativity. We tend to discount the positive side of things which leads us to feel that there is not an equal amount of positivity to balance out the negativity.

But there is!

That’s the good news. It’s a perception error. Whether it be society’s focus on the bad or our own tendencies, we don’t perceive our mentalities correctly. It took a five-mile run for me to notice this.


Even as I ran with a negative voice in my head, I still ran. My feet kept thumping against the ground one after another. The voice telling me to give up had an opposing force, it was my willpower, my determination, my thinking brain. As if that wasn’t enough, I discovered that each question had its opposing statement that I did not realize I was even saying because I was so focused on the negative voice.

It went something like this:

“You’re tired.” No, not as tired as I’ve been before.

“You’ve done enough.” No, I haven’t.

“Feel that stitch? That’s because you shouldn’t be running.” It’s because I drank water and ate too close to running.

“Just walk home.” No, I came out to run.

Understanding that there were these statements that pushed me to keep picking up my feet, liberated me. No longer was there this perceived imbalance. To each negative question or statement, there was an equally positive one. More than that, I was offered a choice each time something negative surfaced. There was the obvious darkness and the less obvious light and I chose to keep going, to follow the near-silent voice of positivity. In the last several days since this run, I’ve been able to turn my gaze inward and see all the positive actions that I previously couldn’t.

In the last several days since this run, I’ve been able to turn my gaze inward and see all the positive actions that I previously couldn’t. Shocking and new, it changed the power of the mean voice. Even if I still can’t always recognize the positive voice and actions, I know that they exist in equal strength and number. That alone strips the domineering power of that awful inner critic who tries to stop me from doing anything. 

Because here’s the thing, just because the positive voice isn’t as loud as the negative one doesn’t mean that it is any less powerful.

1 thought on “The Equilibrium”

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