Louize Carroll - Month Two Plan
EPISODE TWO – PSYCHOLOGY SESSION PLAN
Dear Marathon Mind Listener,
Welcome to the ‘Mind’ section of Marathon Mind!
Monthly Letter to all Runners:
You are now into the second month of your training. You’ve hit some key training targets, with Colin’s Strength and Conditioning exercises, Sharon’s nutrition advice, Niall’s mindful guidance and Rob and Derry’s coaching tips. Hopefully you’ve gotten some insight into your own brain too with Michael our neuroscientist.
So let me ask you – how is your mind? You’re bound to feel some elation at the wins you’re beginning to achieve, and at watching your body take on and power through new challenges. As you keep progressing and move towards the new height of your 10km mark, you might find yourself hitting a wall the following day, maybe feeling irritated, frustrated or resistant towards what comes next. What goes up must come down! Don’t be put off by this, it’s normal.
Your body is incredible and it’s finding a new way to operate, to use fuel and to generate new levels of output. With that comes challenges, hormonal shifts and mood changes. You are finding your own balance, and as Niall speaks about the waves of intensity that will wash over you in your long runs, so too will there be waves of alternating energy and enthusiasm over the course of your entire training programme.
Some days you’ll be ready to hit the road and other days you’ll wish you never laid eyes on us.
It is at this point that:
1. Your values will come into play
2. You start to learn not to take either voice or state of mind too seriously
3. You stay connected to what matters.
But how do you manage that inner critical voice that pops up every now and again, telling you a) don’t bother, b) you’re never going to stick at this or c) you’re in over your head, or any other extended amount of letters of the alphabet that hold critical thoughts and get in your way? More on this later.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROCESS OVER GOALS
We are a society and culture wrapped around outcomes. 12 steps to happiness, how to hack your career, how to hack your feelings, how to think extra positively (yawn), how to hack your looks - it’s endless all the ways in which you can bypass the tough stuff.
We are oriented towards getting something concrete and measurable out of whatever energy we expend. To the point where we become quite reluctant to direct our attention into things that don’t directly feed into some imminent tangible return, whether that’s to make us ‘better’, ‘hotter’, ‘fitter’, ‘smarter’ or ‘more enlightened’.
If we are not fully conscious of the choices we are making, we are at risk of living day to day according to goals prescribed to us by social media. And if we are acting according to some prescribed way of being, the chances are that no matter what you do or take on, or no matter what goal you achieve, you still feel a distance from attaining a sense of fulfillment.
This is the reason in Month One I asked you to write a letter to yourself.
Marathon Mind is a powerful vehicle that you can use to get to know yourself better, and to understand how you show up in the world and why - if you allow it. If you take it as a practical training programme for your physicality, then it is just a Marathon. That decision is yours. Maybe you’re not ready to explore the mind, and that’s ok. But if you are, jump on in, we’ll help you learn to catch yourself!
A large portion of the training plan is concrete, tangible, with visible returns. But the mind portion of it is the opposite. It’s exploratory, it’s open, it’s curious. It’s unpredictable. It’s without obvious imminent returns. So it involves blind investment. Walking into the shadows without being guaranteed of learning anything that day, or seeing any kind of result. So why bother?
Carl Jung, an eminent father of psychology with some of the most profound thinking on the human condition, made it his business that in the first half of his day, 6am to 12pm, his schedule was cleared for PLAY. Yes play. Freeplay. Wandering. Sitting. Drawing. Getting lost in the woods. Listening to music. Meditation. Exploring in nature. Do you remember as a child, that this is essentially all you would do? You would play FOR THE SAKE of playing. You would revel in the intensity of something funny and let it fill your whole body. You would roll around the floor, because you could and couldn’t care less if you looked silly, and you would build a fort, just for the hell of it.
And why? Because it has the power to restore your joy in simply just living, to expand your capacity to appreciate what miracle it is that we exist at all, and how we have so much power within us to choose how we experience the world before us.
For Month TWO, I have THREE exercises for you.
DISCOVER YOU VALUES
TRACK YOUR INNER CRITIC
Schedule in 1 hour per week of FREEPLAY. Any play of your choice! The only rule is that it is not in pursuit of improving your physicality, of improving anything in fact, and that it’s not work oriented. It just has to be something for the sake of it. For the sake of the joy or curiosity or interest you may get from it.
Some examples are drawing, sketching, colouring, lego, lying on your back looking up at the night sky, re-reading an old children’s book, climbing a tree (be careful!) exploring somewhere you’ve never been before (be careful again), writing a poem, painting, making a candle, listening to spoken words, music or concerts.
2. DISCOVER YOUR VALUES
The reason it’s important to uncover what your values are is because when you reach a dilemma in your life, when you hit a point of indecision, when you are faced with a choice between continuing on one path, or choosing another – one thing that will keep you on track is knowing what your values are. They serve as signposts. If you feel a little lost at times, look up. LOOK UP. For loads of reasons - look up. Look up at the sky. Look up at the birds, look up at the stars. Look up at the raindrops and the expanse that stretches far beyond our earthly understanding. We are beautiful insignificant beings in the large stretch of the universe, but we get so bloody lost inside our own heads, in what we have and what we don’t have and just in case that wasn’t enough - in what we think we might be supposed to have.
You’ve been through things. Some joy and some tragedy. Some things have left lasting scars. That’s ok. Come home to yourself. See your small but precious place in this universe and get familiar with your values and how you want to live in this world. They will keep you honest and they will keep you on track to where you’re headed.
DISCOVER YOUR VALUES
(copyright Louize Carroll, do not reproduce without author’s permission)
Once you have discovered and reaffirmed what your values are in life, these now become your signposts or your guides in terms of how you choose to interact in not only your relationships, but in your career, your goals and in all areas of your life.
STEP ONE: Here are some questions to help uncover what your values are.
Name one of your favourite traits?
When you are 90 years old, what would you like people to say about you?
List two of the most important people in your life?
List two words to describe each of them.
If you were to define your own country in terms of a guiding principle or motto – what would it be?
What would you be willing to risk your life for?
What are the qualities you look for in a partner?
Describe yourself in one word?
If you could only achieve one thing by the end of your life, what would it be?
If there were just two rules in life that anyone should follow, what would they be?
Think of the person you admire the most – why do you admire them?
STEP TWO: MISSION STATEMENT
Use everything you have discovered about what is important to you here to build a mission statement. You will be starting to discover and make conscious the values and principles upon which your life choices will be based, now and in the future.
MY MISSION STATEMENT IS:
3. TRACK YOUR INNER CRITIC
This is the voice that pops up at the most inopportune moments. The one that appears to kick you when you’re down, that pulls out of you when you need to focus and that compromises your belief in yourself.
It’s the voice that derails you the moment you need to deliver a work presentation. It’s the voice that causes you to hang back when the opportunity to demonstrate your talent or your ability presents itself. It is the voice that constantly makes you second-guess yourself. It might even be the voice that pops up when you’re training, telling you you’re simply not good enough or strong enough to do this.
Our inner critic appears to us like an aggressive bully. A sporadic chatter, relentlessly showing up at the wrong time, at the time we need encouragement and self-belief the most.
But here’s the thing, the inner critic is typically an inherited critic. It could be from a parent, a teacher, a bully-ish sibling, friend or cousin. A voice that we received and that permeated our sense of self, so much so, that it became part of how we speak to ourselves.
One way to unplug the power of this voice is to begin to notice when it pops up and what it says. Notice what happens next. Notice how you feel and what you think and what you do. Keep a diary and over the course of the week, start to see if you can notice a pattern.
Here is your template (Download Below)