Why Are We So Mean to Ourselves, But So Loving to Others?


I am in my reflection phase right now.

After a season of training, during my time off, I always think back over how things have gone. The mistakes I have made, and what I can do better as we move forward.

I am excited to move into marathon training for California International on December 4th, and I actually did enjoy the speed workouts in this past season, but as I reflect, one thing just sticks in my mind.

I did not perform in my races.

I have only really raced to my potential in one race this year; The London Marathon.

Some of my other races I had decent performances, like the world half marathon championships, I did the best I could, considering I was called up three days before the race, and was in the middle of marathon training.

But that being said, I had quite a few bad ones, which is disheartening, as one thing I always prided myself on, was being able to perform on race day.

Considering how well training has gone this year, I am surprised that I do not have better results next to my name.

Why could this be?

Surely when you string a good amount of training together, and you are put into great races with competition to push you, that is the perfect time to go out there and smash it.

You would think, right?

I definitely would.

My confidence in my ability and what I can achieve has been higher this year than it has ever been, yet I have raced at the kind of level I was training at 2-3 years ago.

So if training has been going right, what is causing this?


As much as I hate to admit it.

As much as I pride myself on being tough and able to push myself to a level beyond most. My mind has been my weakness these past few months, and I know it.

Some of that is within my control, some of it not.

Like I said on Monday, this has been an incredibly emotional year for me. I have been incredibly lucky with the opportunities I have had, but at the end of the day, that all is a bit of a rollercoaster, and will make some kind of difference.

But that is not the main problem, cracking under pressure is the reason.

You might be thinking:

You are working with a sports psychologist! What about Evie?

I am wondering the same thing.

At the London marathon, my mind was in such a good place.

I felt so confident, I could handle the negative thoughts, I could face them head on, be kind to myself, and keep moving forward.

Yet the second half of this year, when the going got tough in a race, I broke down.

I did actually have a chance to talk to Evie for over an hour last week, and we now have meetings set up for every week again, which will make a huge difference, but she had some theories on why I struggled these past few months…..of course not taking any credit for how strong I was working with her, and how weak I had become these past few months without her.

But we all know that she was a huge part of why I was so on top of my mental game.

Evie thought that being so strong for everyone else in my life, and trying to use my former strategy of just plowing on with life, not allowing myself  any slack, meant that when I was left to my own thoughts, like in a race, when those voices of doubt are strong, I cracked under the pressure.

Although unlike me, Evie thought that was understandable.

I on the other hand, am still struggling with that part.

I know I am only human. I know that we all only have so much mental strength, and I have used all mine up.

But bad racing was not the only problem.

I found that I was snapping at my family and Steve, I was struggling to sleep at night, and just feeling completely out of control of my own life.

After a weekend at home, a few days into this week off running, and some social catch ups with friends, I am already starting to feel better.

What Evie said however, has been in my mind.

What worked so well before, was being kind to myself, not calling myself an embarrassment like I did in the Falmouth race, or thinking of myself as a failure for not being as strong as I usually am.

If you think about how you would treat a daughter, a friend, your sister, you would NEVER tell them that they were embarrassing themselves with a poor performance, or how dare they not hold it together?!

You would be supportive, and loving, and tell them that everything is going to be okay.

Why do we find it so hard to be kind to ourselves, especially during moments of stress and overwhelm?

Surely, that is the time above all else we should give ourselves slack, reassure ourselves that we are doing the best we can, just like we would a daughter, a friend, a sister?

But we don’t.

I am trying to be better at this, trying to take my own advice that I tell everyone else, just do the best you can, that is all you can ask for, and if you are guilty of punishing yourself for not being strong enough, maybe you need this reminder too.

We are only human, and it is okay to not be strong all the time.

After all, those moments of weakness show us just how strong we really are. We take them on, we move on, and we are a stronger (and hopefully, smarter) person on the other side.

I will give myself some slack if you will too.

[bctt tweet=”Why are we so kind to others, but so mean to ourselves?” username=”tinamuir”]

Are you guilty of being mean to yourself, but loving to others?

mental tactics, struggles

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  • SO guilty of this and used the same word to describe my even being at the triathlon national championships this year. I know exactly what you mean when you say “I didn’t really race,” because I mailed it in on that one for sure because I doubted my right to be there. I’m so glad you are taking this time to reflect and that you have Evie. I know you will work though this, as your professional and personal life are always a work in progress. Just know I when I think of you – win or lose, horrible race or overall winner – I think of a champion human being, inside and out. xo

  • carla birnberg
    August 31, 2016 5:44 am

    This is such a beautiful and well written post.
    One I could have written 15 years ago as well.
    I wonder if it really is with 18 comes wisdom? Or, at least here, aging has really left me with no more f*cks left to give 🙂 and I love myself where I am

  • This is so spot on Tina! I held onto anger, frustration, and just overall feelings of sadness after my injury at Boston for a whole year. Running a redemption marathon was all I could think about. I snapped out of it the day before Marathon Monday this year while in a yoga class. During savasana, my teacher told us to put our hands over our hearts. She then said let go of whatever doesn’t serve you. Forgive yourself. It was at that moment that I really did forgive myself and released the anger. Did it bother anyone else that I got injured during Boston? No. But I beat myself up over it for a year.

  • I can also so easily get into a pattern of being so hard on myself. I am trying to recognize it when it happens and figure out what in my life is leading to that.

  • Lindsay Knake
    August 31, 2016 10:04 am

    Thank you for this. I’ve struggled with running for very nearly a year. I’ve had two DNFs, incredible fatigue and emotional exhaustion and haven’t figured out how to get myself going. And I’m eight weeks from a marathon. I have to remind myself again and again I’m doing the best I can.
    “We are only human, and it is okay to not be strong all the time.” Yes. All of this.

  • Oh friend! I am so having this issue with myself these days. Every word you wrote, I felt was a reflection of something I’ve been feeling. I’m not sure if you knew that I’m having a hip replacement in late September. I’ve been just tormented by this. It’s helped hearing what other people are going through and realizing that these challenges do in fact make us stronger! Thanks for this today.

  • I will definitely say YES to this! I love to take care of my clients, friends, family, and people who I work with, but yet I am so hard on myself and even mean to myself. I love to give give give, but when it comes to me, I have a hard time of giving to ME. I am aware of this. I am working on this. And I know that I will be loving myself a heck of a lot more, because life is way way way too short to be mean. It is a waste of TIME and ENERGY!

  • Runningwithallergies
    August 31, 2016 1:09 pm

    I identified with this post on so many levels. I need to work on it and thanks for reminding me! Between Evie and your reflective time, you will find a way to push through this. Enjoy your last few days of rest.

  • Martina Di Marco
    August 31, 2016 1:33 pm

    It’s “funny” since, just the other day, I came across a comment I made on Strava re: a workout I did back in October. Within three sentences, I managed to call myself an idiot and a stupid. I honestly got shocked about how mean I was to myself. Since after Boston I’ve been having a really hard time with my training but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the past is that snapping at yourself after every bad workout/race is not gonna make things better.

  • Yes! So much truth. I can be kind and compassionate of others. I can give them grace or help them to see a situation in a totally different way but when it comes to me, the grace is lacking and the judgement is full on. BUT, I’m working on it, and it sounds like you are too. But this is so difficult.

  • It’s funny you should write this post today as I’m kinda having a moment of something similar too – generally I like to power on and tough things out & am usually quite mentally strong but the last few weeks I’ve just been feeling much weaker (in my head) & like I’ve less control over everything. It can be hard to know what you’re supposed to do, whether you should just buck up and power on or maybe you’re right – maybe what’s needed is to just give yourself a break and find yourself again that way. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Michelle@Running with Attitude
    August 31, 2016 8:00 pm

    Oh my goodness I am so guilty of this! Thank you for putting this into words so perfectly!

  • I am so guilty of this! I get into the negative mindset so often. When I have a more level head, I always ask “would you tell that to 5 year old Ellie?” or “would you let 5 year old Ellie do that?” Usually that answer is no. That small child is still in all of us and deserves love, care and happiness.

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