How To Fail And Still Stay On Your Own Side
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In this heartwarming and humorous episode, Dr. Aziz shares stories of how we can lose badly in life and still be on our own side no matter what.
You will discover how to release self-criticism and feelings of inferiority so you can start to feel confident in who you are right now.
Hey! Welcome to today’s episode of the show. Yes, let’s do this. I want to share something with you today that I think will really help you on your path to greater confidence and really help you let go of fear, self-doubt, social anxiety, and also see just how inwardly pathetic I really am. I say that in jest. I’m not pathetic. I’m awesome and so are you. I love myself and I sure hope you do too. And if you don’t, don’t worry, there’s still hope. You can. It’s possible for you to get completely on your own side. In fact, that’s what this episode is really about. It’s called, How to Lose Badly. I’m going to share a story of me losing quite badly.
How we can stay on our own side no matter what. If you listen to any of these other episodes of the show, or see my YouTube videos, or read any of my books, or anything, you know what a big believer I am in being on our own side. Self-acceptance and self-compassion are pointing to a similar thing, which is changing your relationship with yourself. When our relationship with ourselves is toxic or critical. When we’re on our own side, sort of, and then we flip and we turn on ourselves. When we start to attack ourselves or berate ourselves. It could be really obvious. We’ve all had those experiences where we’re just like, “Idiot! Stupid!” But then it’s also more subtle. Like just looking over that person who seems really like they got it all together. They’re really good looking, in shape, and popular. “Bastards!” Anyway, you look at them, and it’s not this intense attack of yourself, but it’s just this really subtle thing. You look at them and there’s this sense of, “Nyah, he’s just better than you are. You’re totally in a different class. You’re nothing like him.” Right? It’s subtle but you leave feeling shitty, basically. That’s another form of attack. It can happen in many different ways.
One of the most important ways to overcome social anxiety, break out of shyness, massively increase your confidence in any area of life, is to get on your own side. It’s to break those habits of self-criticism, of comparison, and of thinking you’re less than others because that doesn’t stop. We think that if we obtain something, or we get something, or we earn a certain amount of money, or get a girlfriend, or get a nice job, or whatever it is, that all of a sudden that’s all going to stop. But it doesn’t. It just takes a new form. You just start comparing yourself to different people who are more successful. Or you start criticizing yourself for not being a good enough boyfriend instead of for being single. Whatever it is, it just shifts. So, we have to get on our own side.
Today, I want to share a fun and funny story with you about losing badly. Because that’s one of those instances where we really turn on ourselves. You might stay on your own side more and more. You’ve been working on this for a while. You might find that you are a lot better to yourself. But when something goes down, when you lose badly, when you mess something up, when someone’s upset with you, those are the times where it’s hardest to stay on our own side. So I’m going to share a story all about that with you right now.
By the way if you’re enjoying this show and you’re benefiting from it, I would love if you could do me a favor and go to iTunes where that podcast app is, or even go to shrinkfortheshyguy.com, wherever you’re listening to this, but find a way to get to iTunes where you can give it a review. Preferably a good review if you think it deserves that. That would be really be helpful because that would help me reach more people. That’s my purpose, that’s my mission, Operation: Mass Liberation. How do we help as many people as we can who are stuck in the same place of fear and self-doubt. Help them let go of that because it’s total B.S. and I don’t think anyone should have to be stuck in that. That would be a way to help me if this show is helping you.
Now, let’s talk about me losing badly. Not too long ago, just last weekend, I ran in a 10k race. Oh yes, that’s right. I wouldn’t say I’m a runner, in the sense that I’m not an avid runner where running is my thing. I’m more of an amateur I-like-to-go-out-and-do-some-runs kind of guy. I probably run about three times a week. So, there is this 10k race coming up. And maybe I’ll do more, actually. There’s more to this story after I lost badly. That was my current experience. Three times a week and I saw this 10k coming up and it happened to be literally down the street from my house, in this park called Fern Hill Park. It’s about a ten minute walk from my house. I thought, “That’s perfect. It’s a Saturday morning, I’ll just hang out with the boys and my wife, and we’ll all dash over, do this run, and come back. It’s not a half-day affair. I can just be gone for a little bit.” So I sign up for it. It’s called the Stumptown Cross Country Run. Apparently it’s a series of a five cross country races and their all… I don’t know if they’re all 10Ks but this one was a 10K, and for those of you who don’t know, that’s 6.2 miles, I think.
I got there and I signed up. I gave my 20 bucks to be in the race. You could sign up on a team. You could enter your team when you sign up. I was like, “I don’t have a team.” I looked around and people were wearing matching jerseys. There were guys with their white jerseys and their red jerseys, and team this and team that. Some of them say OSU, Oregon State University. I was like, “Oh. Hmm.” I look over and there are these guys doing these crazy warm-ups. They’re raising their knees and jetting them in the air and going, “Huh! Uh! Uh! Uh!” I was like, “Hmm. I don’t do that.” And I started to look around, and it was men’s only by the way, the women had their race about an hour earlier. I started to look around and I was like, “These guys are runners. Like real pro runners.” I don’t know if they make a living off of it, but they seriously do this. I thought “Okay, we’ll see how it goes.”
So we all line up on this big patch of grass. Then you run around in this huge park. Each lap is about a mile and we’re going to do about six of these. Then I notice a lot of guys had cleats on. I was like, “Hmm. Cleats eh?” I got my Nike Frees on. When I signed up, one of the guys was like, “Some pretty muddy spots out there.” I said, “Okay, very good.” So, I’m lined up with all these guys. They got their cleats on. They did their warmups. Their doing their fist-bumps before they start. And I’m already being like, “Whoa. I don’t fit in here, but what am I going to do? I’m just going to do the race.” So, they have all of us line up and they’re like, “Runners, on your mark! Get set!” And I’m going to tell you about what happens when we go right after this break. It’s called a cliffhanger!
So, we’re all lined up. It’s an overcast day. It’s supposed to rain but it hasn’t yet. The ground’s all wet because it had been raining the night before. We’re all lined up in this grassy field and we’re going to run to the edge of the park and start running around the whole loop of the park. And he’s like, “Runners, on your mark, get set.” And I’m thinking to myself, “Okay, these guys are obviously going to be pretty fast. I’ll just run with them for a little while and I’ll slowly, over time decrease my pace to something I can sustain a little longer. But I’ll start out right in the middle of the pack, why not? He was like, “On your mark, get set, go!”
We all start running. Everyone’s running and I’m running and even though it’s a cold morning, It’s really warm because we’re all in this big pack. There’s about a hundred people on the race. and I’m like, “Yeah, here we go, yeah. Whoa, this is really fast.” It was fast, man. I ran for about 30 to 40 seconds with the general speed of the pack. I was like, “Holy shit! This is the pace they run at? This?!” So, to complicate matters, I have one of those Apple Watches. And it was the first generation ones where they didn’t have the GPS in it. And so when you go running, it tells you, obviously your time– it can keep track of that. But when it tries to tell you your distance and your pace, it’s guessing based upon how you move your body and if you’ve run in the past with your phone on you. Then it’s calibrated and it’s making it’s best guess. Now I don’t know if my shit wasn’t calibrated right or what. But, when I was doing my rounds doing my week, It showed me that I was running about an eight-minute mile. I was like, “Ah, that’s pretty good. Eight-minute mile, yeah?” And so I’m getting out there, and by the way, that was wrong. I’ll share more in a little bit. But according to my watch, these guys were running at five and a half minute miles to start. I was just like, “I’m not going to sustain this even for half a mile. It’s going to burn me up for the race.” So, I started to like, “Alright, just ease up a bit, ease up a bit. Yeah, slow down a little bit.” So I slowed down and the main pack passes by. Then for the next mile and a half, it just proceeds to be like continually people passing me. I’m not slowing down. I’m keeping, according to the watch, a seven and a half minute pace, which is wrong, because apparently it was about an eight and a half minute pace. But anyway, they were just passing, passing, passing. I’m like, “This is so freaking hard. How are they going so fast? Are they trained for this or something?”
They have this portion right near where you checked in for the race where you run right by them. The main area where all the people are hanging out. There were a couple of bales of hay (or was it a brick of hay) and I don’t know why they were there. But you have to step over the hay bale, maybe because it’s supposed to be more cross country that way. Anyway, there are a bunch of people cheering and everyone kinda knows each other there, I guess, because they’re all in this racing circuit. So everyone is cheering like, “Go Daniel! Yeah Jared!” Then I run by and it’s silent. And then by the second lap going around, I’m like pretty far behind most people and I notice, probably within the first lap, social anxiety kicking in. “Aww man, this looks bad. I’m slow. I suck. I’m not as good as these people. People watching think, ‘Man, that guy’s slow and he sucks.'” My mind just started going on it. There’s no way I would really significantly increase my pace. I could’ve but then I wouldn’t have been able to finish the race. So, I let myself just run at the pace that I knew I could sustain. Then there’s another guy passing. Then the passing starts to thin out quite a bit at this point. There’s the occasional person passing by. I was wondering, “When am I going to stop being passed? When am I going to be in last place? I know it’s coming soon.” Sure enough, there’s this old guy who comes by. He’s not really old, it’s a relative term. But for running, I mean, he’s probably in his fifties. He comes up and he comes right by me and he’s going a little faster than I am. Then he’s like, “You’re doing great buddy. Just keep it up.” I was like, “Thanks man.” And then he passes and I’m like, “Oh. That’s it.” And then it’s just me and I’m running in a park. There’s no one around. I’m like, “Wow, okay, there we go. I’m at the back of the pack.”
I notice a strong sense of self-criticism that was emerging. I feel self-conscious. I feel like I’m being judged. I feel less-than or worse than other people. A long time ago I made a commitment to myself to be on my own side no matter what. And I would encourage you to consider making a similar commitment. What that commitment means is whenever I notice that, whenever I notice myself turning on myself, I slow down and start to pay attention to it. Instead of getting on the bandwagon, like, “Yeah, they think you suck. Yeah, they DO think you suck. You do suck. What’s wrong with you?” You know how we can do that? We can kind of jump on the bandwagon with our self-criticism. But we actually want to notice that and start to interrupt that pattern. So I thought, “Wow. That’s unpleasant to be criticizing myself.” And I thought, “Well, this is a great opportunity to completely release something because some button is getting pushed by being in last place– losing at something.” Especially if it’s something at sports.
It goes back to being a kid and playing competitive sports, competitive soccer. If you were losing badly then you suck and you got yelled at and you got shamed. So I realized that this is something for me to heal. So I just started to feel that self-consciousness in my body. I started to see where I felt pain or constriction. But I just kept going. Then something interesting happened right around the third mile. I said, “Okay. I could do this for the whole race. Just kind of be critical of myself and thinking I look bad to people. But, what the fuck, I’m not a competitive runner. I’m not in it to win it. I just wanted to get out there and challenge myself and run 6.2 miles as fast a pace as I can do. That’s a great work-out for me. How can I enjoy myself here? How can I make this fun?” I just kept on asking myself that question, “How can I enjoy this? How can I make this fun?” Then something happened where it clicked and I just got giggly. I found the whole thing extremely amusing. I found it extremely amusing how far behind I was. I was getting passed by a guy in his fifties.
Then right around the third mile, maybe even before then, because I had no fucking idea what was going on and where I was in the race. They had these markers that I thought, when it said “one mile” on this thing that it meant that you’ve gone a mile. But it turns out that it meant that if you went around enough, you had one mile left in the race. So I don’t know where I was. The information on my watch was inaccurate. I was like, “I don’t know what’s going on.” But I think it was around two and a half miles, maybe three miles, is when the front runners of the race lapped me. I was feeling kind of light and free, just laughing at the whole scene, and then I heard them coming because I heard this heavy breathing. I looked back and I moved to the side for them.
There were these two guys. They were on the same team wearing this black jerseys and they just bombed by. I was like, “Holy shit.” I’ve seen racing on TV or watch the Olympics or something. But all those people are competing against other people who are equally as fast. So it’s kind of deceptive. It’s like, “Yeah, they’re all running. Fast, I guess.” But when you’re there and these guys run by, I’m like, “They’re going double my pace! Or something like that.” I don’t know what their pace was but maybe it was five or five and a half minute miles, more or less. Something like that but it was really fast. Instead of feeling less-than or judging myself. I just felt really impressed. I was like, “Man!” The level of discipline and training that those guys must have to be able to go out on a race and do this. And this is not a huge prestigious race. It’s not like they specifically trained for this race. This is the level of shape that they’re already in from whatever else they’re training for. A little ways back, actually, probably half a minute to forty-five seconds or a minute behind, was the third place, fourth place, fifth place, and then it just became continuous lapping. But by that time, it had melted. The social anxiety had melted. I stopped criticizing myself. And I started having a really good time.
We’re going to take a quick break right now, and then we’re going to talk about how you can use this in your life starting right now. So you can get on your own side no matter what happens. No matter how badly you’re losing, or how uncomfortable you feel in a situation, or if you feel like you mess something up, or you’re worse than other people.
So, what are you learning from this story? What’s standing out to you? What can you take and apply in your own life? Here’s a few of the things that I realized from this. One is: It was just a reinforcement of how much our self-doubt, self-consciousness and social anxiety is completely self-created. It was pretty obvious in this situation. I could just see it unfolding. Those people don’t care about me. The people on the sidelines aren’t judging me. No one’s even focusing on me. It’s all this ego-centric, “Oh my God! The world is watching me.” But no one cares.
It’s extremely liberating to really take that in and see that. That the only person who’s judging you is you. If you don’t believe that, then try this experiment. I have a video on YouTube, you can look it up, I think it’s called: Dr. Aziz, street shenanigans. I had viewers of my YouTube channel dare me to do stuff and I pick ten things off of the list of thirty dares or whatever. Then I went and did them and one of them was just to lie down on a busy sidewalk. Some of you might have heard of it. I interviewed Till Gross, he’s a big proponent of the comfort zone crusher challenge. That’s one of their main things, to lie down on the street, to break out of social norms. Anyway, I did that and you’d be amazed at what percentage of people don’t even look. It’s not like, “Oh look, that guy is weird, I’m going to pretend like I didn’t see it and move on.” They just don’t even register it. It’s not even in their world. So people just don’t pay that much attention to us. So if you want to carry out that experiment and lie down on the sidewalk for 30 seconds, do so. Put your hands behind your head. Fold your hands behind your head so it looks like you’re lounging or relaxing and just lay on the ground for 30 seconds. See what happens. People just don’t care.
Another thing is: What triggers us to feel inferior? I find that really fascinating. Obviously, not being as fast or as strong as the other guys triggered a sense of feeling inferior. Not just like, “Oh, I wasn’t first.” It was like, “Oh, a hundred people here are faster or stronger than I am.” And when it’s something like that, you might say, “Well, of course you’d feel bad about yourself then.” Right? I mean, that is embarrassing. That is shameful. That is something to feel insecure or self-conscious about. But why? That also is arbitrary. Why do we buy into that? That just comes from some programming, something that you learned probably growing up, maybe even as a little kid, but maybe even in middle school or high school. Why do we buy into that? Or if you go try to talk to someone and they harshly reject you, of course you’re going to feel ashamed of yourself. You’re going to feel less-than in that situation. But why? In a sense, it only is so if we choose it to be. If we take on that meaning. If we say, “Yeah. It does mean I’m a bad less-than person if I can’t run as fast.” Or, “Yeah, it does mean I’m less-than if someone doesn’t want to talk to me or if I can’t approach someone in a confident and bold manner.”
So being really curious about what it is that triggers that sense of inferiority in you, that sense of self-criticism of, “I’m not good enough.” Or, “Those people are better than me.” And really questioning that trigger. Do you really have to buy into that? A really common one which you might have heard me talk about in the show is guys in the gym. “I feel insecure. I’m self-conscious. That guy’s bigger. That guy’s got more defined muscles. That guy can lift more weight. I feel insecure at the gym. I feel less than. I feel inferior.” But that is only because you’re buying into the story that someone who is more muscular is better than you.
You think, “They’re better than me because they’re more desirable to women.” Well, maybe in theory or in a vacuum. Like if you were just to show her two pictures or something, she’d pick the body type of the guy. Maybe but maybe not. That doesn’t even matter. That’s not true to real life. Real life is what it’s like when you interact with her, how she feels, your energy, how alive you are, and how much you love yourself because, guess what, that guy who’s totally ripped at the gym, who can run a five and a half minute mile or whatever assets and strengths he has, if he hates himself… Because I guarantee you that there are people at that race, who ran fucking fast by my standards, who thought to themselves, “Ah, that was shitty. I sucked today.” And they’re critical, and they’re down, and they’re upset with themselves. I guarantee it. Out of a hundred people, there’s no way that’s not happening to some of them. They’re perfectionists, they’re driving, they wanted more from themselves. They might not even be happier and they might not even be more attractive to someone else because they hate themselves, are hard on themselves, are always critical of themselves. They can’t let love in. They’re not as joyful or happy to connect. They can’t be as present because they’re so upset with themselves all the time.
These are illusions that we have. “If I just look that way. If I could just do that. If I could just do this.” No, the only thing you need to shift right now is how you treat yourself. And you might want to start with a commitment. In fact that brings us to your action step.
Your action step for today is to decide if you want to make that commitment to be on your own side no matter what. Like any commitment, you don’t know exactly how it’s going to unfold. You can’t predict the future six months from now or a year from now. And like any commitment, like committing to get in shape or whatever, it doesn’t mean you’re instantly in shape. It’s a process. It doesn’t mean you instantly are always on your own side and then the critic stops forever. It’s a process. But you have an orienting goal of, “I’m going to get on my own side no matter what.”
So in each situation, when the criticism arises, you become better at identifying it. You focus on how to release it. And if you don’t know how to release it, then you figure it out over time. You read books, you listen to this podcast, you perhaps invest in my program, The Confidence Code, which teaches you exactly how to do that. It gives you valuable skills that you might have never learned anywhere else. But you figure it out. You do what it takes when you make a commitment.
There are tons of resources out there and tons of practices. Things you can do. Meditation. Thought challenging from CBT. The Awareness Log from my book, The Solution to Social Anxiety. Tons and tons of tools at your disposal. But they only emerge and only become valuable once you’ve made that commitment. I would encourage you to see if you want to make that commitment right now.
If you don’t, that’s a bigger question. We don’t have time to get into that but I’ll just say this: What’s the cost of not making that commitment? That’s something to think about too.
Awesome. Thanks for being with me today. Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are, to be on your own side no matter what, and to know that you’re awesome. I’ll talk to you soon.