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A few months ago, one of my doctors, after examining my right knee, stated, “Ron, you should not be able to do what you are doing. According to your X-ray, you have lost some of your cartilage and have mild arthritis in this knee.” I had discussed with him the 900 miles that I had previously ridden thus far in 2016. I was in the office that day asking him if he could help me work through the possible pain from that knee as I prepared for a MS (Multiple Sclerosis) bike day. The knee had become unmanageable at the end of a nine hour day in the saddle in May where I finished the ride after 105 miles long miles. I wanted the assurance that the knee would not limit me as I increased miles in the last few weeks of training for a day where I hoped to ride 75-100 miles to benefit those who have multiple sclerosis.

In addition to the right knee problems, I have had two left knee surgeries, back surgery and both hips replaced. In the midst of training for this ride, I suddenly realized that I could serve as an inspiration for others who might be tempted to give up when they faced limitations of one kind or another.

Limitations? How do you respond when you encounter roadblocks? Do you react with anger, resentment and childish behavior? Do you chose to think that life ‘owes’ you success and blessings and thus you become bitter when what you expected to happen doesn’t?

I am certainly not lifting myself up as any kind of an ongoing example or a model to follow. However, 2016 has found me being mostly an overcomer when it relates to my 63 year old limited body. It has given me an unusual opportunity to laugh out loud at all of my many physical limitations. Cycling this year has yielded an avenue not to boost about my accomplishments, but about my many weaknesses.

Limitations will and do come universally, but each of younmust chose how younhandle the challenges that life affords you. Today, do you chose defeat or inspiration?

 

This is perhaps one of the most tempting, most common, most divisive and most ineffective mental habits that I see in myself as well as in others. It happens so subtlety and yet so consistently that I do not even realize that it is happening. When I stoop to this, my thoughts range on a continuum from superiority to inferiority: Superiority appears for people like this-“I am smarter than him, I make more money than she does, I am more handsome than he is, I am prettier than she is” or one of our all time favorites; “I may have put on a few pounds, but I am not as fat as she is.”  

 Inferiority is just as conventional: “He is taller than me, she wears nicer clothes, has bigger breasts or drives a fancier car than I do.” We gage who we are, how we feel about ourselves and how well we have “done” in our lives, our loves or our successes by constant comparison to others.  

  Superiority builds a pseudo or false self esteem by comparing myself favorably with someone else who is not doing as well as I am. I feel “up” about who I am, whom I married or how much money I earn by looking “down” on others. 

  Inferiority deeply stamps in my mind a poor self worth by comparing my unfavorable characteristics with another person whom I pick out as something I am NOT. If only I was as good, as cute, as smart, or had as impressive of a new smart phone as he has, I would …..maybe….accept myself. Probably not!!!

  Here is a better way; compare yourself to yourself and not to others. Do your very very best, but do not judge your success, your value or most of anything about yourself in contrast with what others do or don’t do. It will take great courage and practice in your thinking to reduce and eventually eliminate the toxic comparison game. However, it is worth the positive and accurate assessment of yourself when you evaluate your efforts, your scores, or your waistline NOT by the other people on this planet, but by how well YOU have achieved your best. 

  Set your goals according to your standards or your potential and not always by what someone else is doing or has done/ not done. You can learn to build a healthier self and finally give your brain a much needed rest from the obsessive and irrational comparison game. Soon, you may very well be glad that you did.