The pit of despair – and the perils of getting out alive


Climbing-to-success-300x300On a recent Saturday run, I was feeling despondent.  Here I was far behind the rest of my group, running alone.

As adults we hate being bad at stuff. Especially in PUBLIC.  My dark mood continued and at one point I wondered should I stop running, as I am not making much progress at all and it has been a year.   My thoughts started to spiral down and I entered the pit of despair.  This is where you feel things are hopeless and you want to give up.  No one tells you this, but the pit of despair is full of carnival mirrors that distort everything: your messages, your self-perception and even your ability to do stuff anymore.

Just then my trainer Nick ran back to me and I confessed how I was feeling.  He simply said “Just think how far you have come.  Less than a year ago you were not running and now you can do even 10 kilometres, easy, slow and steady.

Nick’s words immediately gave me a different perspective.  I also realised that there are a couple of strategies you can use to get out of the pit of despair.  You could try and climb out of the pit, this can be hard as the walls are slippery or you could ask for help.

But be careful when you ask for help as there are two kinds of people with pit expertise! There are the sympathisers, who simply climb into the pit with you. They say “poor you” and help you wallow some more.   This might feel good in the moment but it’s absolutely no use to you. There are then the empathisers, who throw you a rope and sometimes a lifeline to help you out.  This is the nice, empathetic version of “Suck it up princess!”.  Luckily, Nick threw me a rope that day.  I continue to run slow and steady every Saturday and enjoy it even though I am still right at the back of the group.

What about you, what strategies do you use to help yourself or other people climb out of the pit of despair? Please comment, I love hearing from you.

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