I live in hiking and backpacking country. In my mind I am a hiker. I am cool and sporty like the people in the Patagonia ads. Lean, athletic and tan I embark on outdoor adventures, my happy face tanned, barely glistening with sweat. My legs are capable of scaling tall peaks without fatigue. In this fantasy there are no bugs, no need for awkward outdoor bathroom breaks and plenty of snacks to go around.
Recently I embarked on a two State, two national park tour with a friend. There was plenty of wildlife and beautiful scenery to view from our car windows. However, many of the parks best features required some physical exertion to see them. We hiked up walkways to view magnificent thermal features. We inched down steep walkways to glorious waterfalls and trekked miles of trails around peaceful glacial lakes. It was pure joy seeing some spectacular natural wonders.
Ok. I’m lying. It wasn’t spectacular because I’m out of shape and I don’t look like a Patagonia ad. I huffed and puffed up hills barely the size of molehills and swore in my head up the steeper ones. My face was covered in sweat and my feet were chaffed and dirty while in sandals. When they were in hiking boots they collected unsightly blisters like warts on a toad. I began every hike wondering how long it would take for me to get back to the car and air conditioning. I looked at gorgeous views wondering why I didn’t just pay the $3 for a postcard of that view instead of walking the trails with my bug repellent and bear spray. I viewed fit hikers with disdain and envy, secretly considering tripping them as they sprinted up the trail ahead of me leaving me behind, single on a ski lift.
It appears I am not a good hiker. Snack stands, gift shops, indoor bathrooms and visitor centers are more my speed.
Often the image we have of ourselves we have is not accurate. In my mind I’m a slow thinker, bad writer and overweight behemoth. The facts don’t support those thoughts any more than they support me being hiker. I’m a great thinker, an above average writer and not a behemoth.
This week be kind to yourself and accurate about who you really are. Congratulate yourself on your good and giving self and realistic about your negative thoughts. Chances are your week will be better if you make a commitment to look at your mental mirror with clarity and grace.