Here’s an edited transcript of this installment of Amy’s Outdoor Diary. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.
It’s become an unintentional theme of Humans Outside Season 4. So much of what we have talked about from the very first episode of this season has been about the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.
Do any of these sound familiar to you? “I’m not outdoorsy.” “People who are from where I’m from don’t spend time outside.” “I’m not fit enough to enjoy going outside.” “I hate exercise so I’ll hate going outside.” “Bugs creep me out, so going into nature isn’t for me.” “I’m too busy to spend time outside.” “My friends don’t do this so I probably won’t like it.” “My church doesn’t do this so it might not be the kind of thing I’d like.”
And on. And on. And on.
Hear me loud and clear, friend: No matter who you are, no matter where you are from, no matter what you look like, what your faith background is or the shape of your body, going outside is for you, just like it is for me.
You might hear advice in the world to stop listening to stories you tell yourself. I disagree with that. Whatever story you hold is there for a reason. Maybe you have it for protection. Maybe it’s completely true. Maybe it’s not.
What I’m suggesting is this: start questioning the stories. Run them through a rigorous examination. And when those stories are keeping you from doing something like building an outdoor habit that you wish you could do if only for that one thing, start challenging them vigorously.
I’m going to give you two examples of stories I tell myself about heading outside. One is true, one is not.
The first: I am not outdoorsy. Maybe you think that’s ridiculous, but that’s the story I’ve told myself for such a long time that I just assumed it’s true. And mind you, I don’t actually say “I’m not outdoorsy.” I instead present it like this: I’m working to be outdoorsy. But that makes this big assumption that I’m not actually outdoorsy right now, that I’m still NEEDING to work for it. But I think we can all agree that after 1,500 days outside for at least 20 minutes a day, I’m pretty darn outdoorsy. And yet here I am — and I have to be honest, saying “I’m outdoorsy” feels like a lie, like maybe it’s something I should whisper just in case someone who is REALLY outdoorsy hears me say it and calls me out on my crap. It’s a story I’ve told myself for such a long time, it’s hard to stop telling it.
Here’s another: I hate being cold. I’ve been saying this for a long time, ever since I was a teen growing up on a not-cold beach in California. I hate being cold. I don’t want to be cold. I would never put myself in a position to be consistently cold on purpose. Story: I hate being cold.
But here I live in Alaska. And I am confronted with being cold. Heck, I’m cold right now if we’re being honest. So do I hate being cold? Is this story true?
I confront it. I examine it. And I realize that, yes, being cold is pretty high on the list of things I really don’t like. This story is true.
So in this case, I do something about it — and I don’t let the story stop me. I change the narrative and I avoid being cold in the cold. I wear a giant marshmallow-style jacket. I make sure I pack what I need and put on layers. If you encounter me in the wild and it’s cold there you can bet on one of two things: I am warm and cozy in whatever I’m wearing, or you are seeing me as I beat a rapid retreat.
I don’t want you to stop telling yourself stories. I don’t want you to stop making assumptions and acting on the things you believe about yourself. I want you to question them. And if they are true, keep them. And if they are not? Get them out of here and I mean today.
And I’d like to make a suggestion. If a story you are telling yourself is keeping you from doing something that you WANT to do or you WISH you could do, if it’s become a crutch keeping you from reaching what you want to see as a full life, it’s the thing that’s holding you back — question it rigorously. If it’s true, try to find a way to work with it or act around it so that you can continue to chase what you want just like I have with the cold.
I’m not gonna let some stupid cold weather keep me inside, that’s why we have jackets, friends. And you’re not going to let whatever story is stopping you — true or untrue — from being the boss, either.
You can see my outdoor time everyday – cold weather or not – on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. And I want to see your outdoor time, too, which is why I hope you tag your photos with #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.