Is a Distorted View Distorting Your Results?

people running on road during daytime


When I transitioned from Ironman to Ultra distance triathlons, I discovered something profound. It’s called distortion. And it can be low or high. Let me explain.

When I broke my elbow shortly before Ultraman World Championships, in 2014, I didn’t have a moment’s hesitation in deciding whether I would still compete. And once there, I was surrounded by other ultra-level athletes (ultra-level means any race over 50 miles in length). Our conversations were always around the races and training we were doing next: things like the Leadman Epic 5, Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim run, DECA Ironman.

And what I realized is: The ultra-world is my new normal, but to others it is distortion at a high level. What I mean by that is, many people couldn’t fathom how I could think of competing in any race, much less an Ultra, with a broken elbow. And that I did it willingly. But with the ultra-athletes group, it was not only common but completely expected. To others outside that world, it seems crazy…distorted.

The other end of the spectrum also exists. Thinking that you can’t do something like apply for a job or even write your résumé for it. This is distortion on a low level. Your thoughts go from how nice it would be to have that job to the distorted view of not getting it; something that isn’t true and may not even happen.

Here is a helpful article that lists the specific, most common cognitive distortions we experience.

In the article, John M. Grohol, Psy.D. explains, “Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.”

Whatever distortion you are experiencing, it can keep you stuck in no activity. Which means you aren’t getting what you want. If this is what’s happening for you, here’s what you can do:

First, become aware of the cognitive distortion thought process. When you aren’t taking action to get something you want, ask yourself these questions:
“Am I experiencing distortion?” And, “What is the specific thought causing the distortion?”

Write down the thought causing the distortion on paper. Then ask yourself:

“Is this 100% true?”

The answer is usually always NO. By writing it down on paper, you bring it out of your head and see it for what it really is. Asking the last question pokes holes in your cognitive distortion that it’s reality and therefore something you can’t do anything about. Then you can choose what action you want to take and create your own reality. Don’t let a distorted view distort your results!

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