A friend said something that has me thinking of this article topic (that’s almost always where I get my ideas: from things clients or friends say or ask).
She was talking about her big goals for fitness and health, and said, “6 Week Challenge, I challenge you to try and defeat me!”
I know what she meant, she was expressing strength, resolve, almost daring the goal, because she knows she will succeed.
I get that.
I have also been bitten by it.
A few days before my near fatal crash at Ultraman World Championships in 2015, I said, “I want to race hard, I want to get as close to death as I can, without actually dying.”
What I MEANT was that I was going to try really hard and push my body to its limits. What I got was nearly dying.
It’s a bit of an extreme example, but a worthy lesson.
What we say matters, because whether you believe in Murphy’s Law, or God or the Universe or whatever, the fact is, your sub-conscious is listening and it just does what it is told.
How many people have you met, maybe even yourself, that have said, “I am terrible with remembering people’s names.”
What your subconscious hears is, “I am terrible at remembering names, copy that. Got it. boss.”
And there you go, terrible at remembering names.
A little over simplified but proven over and over again.
What if you said, “I am in the process of getting better at remembering names, but I did forget yours at the moment.”
Then the person would understand, because lots of people have trouble remembering names and they would help you out. What if next, you then really worked at anchoring that name, rhyming it, matching it to someone else you know with the same name, connecting it to a feature of their looks (hair, nose, eyes) and then repeating it a few times. Suddenly you will be better at remembering names, because you keep telling your computer (your sub-conscious) that such is your goal.
In fitness and health, we see it all the time.
People tell us that they never lose weight, no matter what they try.
Some folks are downright committed to that belief, and when we put them on a winning program, one that has worked for literally thousands of people, without exception, guess what? They do not change.
The subconscious mind can be that powerful. Remember that article I wrote about the three groups of elite cyclists? (‘Whether you think you can’, January 28/18)
They were each given the exact same electrolyte drink that should have physically made each group faster.
Except that the group that was told it was a placebo and just flavored water – well they had worse results than the other groups, simply because they believed it.
Their body changed biology to suit a decision made by the brain.
What you tell yourself matters, because you are always listening. I am not saying that you can just say that you are rich and fit and healthy and beautiful and magically it will all be true tomorrow.
I am saying that if we watch our language, that is to say how we speak to ourselves, because it matters.
Another one of these that is hard to correct, that caught me last week, is fear-based thinking. It goes like this – when you tell yourself something, your brain throws out the words, “Don’t, not, no,” and focuses on the actual subject of the sentence.
I was trail running in the mountains and with my recent crash and long recovery, I was thinking, I don’t want to trip and fall and I kept working on some positive self-coaching, because I know the brain just hears, “I want to trip and fall.”
Would you like proof of concept?
Do not think of an elephant, don’t think of the ocean, no thoughts of green grass.
Bet you failed at all three. Instead we need to think, “I am nimble and agile, running safely on my feet.”
I found myself thinking about tripping too much, and well, I have a dislocated finger and five others are sprained, swollen and purple from the wipe out.
Like I said, it’s not a perfect science, but it’s worth considering.
My positive self-talk worked for two hours of the most treacherous speed running on the mountain, I just relaxed at the bottom, and paid the price.
Be mindful of what you tell yourself.
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.