Did not Finish?
One of the commentators of the local Comrades Marathon last weekend mentioned that DNF - Did Not Finish - are the three most dreaded letters for any runner to have placed after their name. The Comrades is an epic race with various cut off times throughout the day. If you haven’t passed a certain distance at a certain time you are not allowed to continue. The most hair raising cut-off comes at the end of the marathon. Runners have twelve hours to complete the 90-odd kilometre race. When the twelve hours are up, along with a dramatic crowd cheering countdown, a gun is fired and that is that. If you are not over the finish line, you are a DNF’er.
Can you imagine being a kilometre or two away, or worse, actually being IN the stadium, after enduring an excruciating day of pain and suffering, but missing the final cut off? Truly, the disappointment would kill me. According to psychologist Susan David, that’s because I have dead people’s goals!
When we are not willing to try in case we get disappointed or when we simply don’t want to feel what we are feeling, she reminds us that we have dead people’s goals. Only dead people never have unwanted feelings or are inconvenienced by their feelings in any way. For the rest of us, our strong emotional reactions are a flash-light showing us what’s important to our lives. We feel strongly because we care deeply. It’s what makes life, life.
Whether it's not finishing, not starting or just plain failing at something important, one of the hardest tasks is finding the capacity to endure our suffering. Endure is such an encouraging word. It captures the sense that there is more to you, and to this moment, than the pain - physical, mental or emotional, as the case may be. Some people fall in love, get their hearts broken and vow never to love again. Others fall in love, get their hearts broken and vow to fall in love better next time; to align more closely with their core values and what brings them happiness.
That is what we want to do more of. Use our emotions as data to guide us closer towards who we are and what’s important, rather than as instructions about who we are or how to be in the world.
The same Comrades Marathon commentator mentioned that the night before, she had been chatting to a runner that had started, but never finished the race, ELEVEN times. What an extraordinary example of endurance and resilience in the face of adversity. Seriously dude, respect!
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I'm a Personal Development Life Coach who specialises in L.I.F.E (Living Into your Fullest Expression). Based in Richards Bay, on the East Coast of South Africa, I live with my long-suffering husband, (his description!), two much-loved dogs and care for my elderly father who has Alzheimer's.
Read more about me here.