We all know eating right and exercising will make you healthy. That’s not what this article is about. The benefits of exercise and eating healthy are beyond the scope of what I’m discussing here. This article is about changing the way you think and thus, so act. By doing this, we can change our mindset to overcome adversity and allow our bodies get healthy and stay healthy for good.
The inspiration for this post is from the article “This Will Always Define Your Success Or Failure In Life.” The author, Leo Emery, is a trusted a source of inspiration and guidance. Leo has given me permission to share and expand upon what he’s written.
True health and fitness is not a show of strength, flexibility, or a six-pack. It’s certainly not the latest fad diet or home fitness craze either. It’s a testament to ones’ mindset.
I love this quote:
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
-Sir Edmund Hillary
Sir Edmund Hillary was the first mountaineer to summit Mt. Everest, and this quote is applicable to almost any challenge we may face.
You can have anything you want in life, the only thing stopping you, is you. The real problem is how do we conquer ourselves?
Let’s start by looking at the definition of the word conquer:
: to take control of (a country, city, etc.) through the use of force
: to defeat (someone or something) through the use of force
: to gain control of (a problem or difficulty) through great effort
The third one is spot on for what we are looking for. “to gain control of a problem or difficulty through great effort.”
If we are the “problem” then we need to gain control of ourselves through great effort to get what we want.
But does it have to be through great effort? What if we can learn to control ourselves to produce a positive outcome by manipulating small everyday actions. Things we may not even realize we are doing.
What if we could do it by simply rewording what we say and how we think?
In the original article, Leo discusses the importance of one’s “Self Talk.” It’s not only how we talk to ourselves but to other people as well.
As Leo puts it:
“Self talk is that inner dialog in your head that you’re having every single day of your life. In short, it’s your daily vocabulary”
These words or thoughts may seem insignificant, but they ultimately define you as a person.
They have the power build or destroy, love or hate, inspire or demoralize. What people tend to forget is we have complete control over these words and thus our actions and outcomes.
The video below is an excellent example of the power words have over physical outcomes. It is a lecture from Prof Tim Noakes at TEDxCapeTownED.
Manipulating your mindset
Actions follow thought no matter what. People that succeed have a few things in common; focus, persistence and drive. What we fail to realize is these are byproducts of something else; positive self-talk and the right mindset. They know how to think in a way that will produce results in their favor.
Let’s take a look at a common question I’m asked all the time.
“Why can’t I lose weight?”
Let’s look at some possible answers to that question.
-I have a terrible diet.
-I don’t exercise enough.
-My genetics hate me.
Not very inspiring is it? This type of self-talk encourages what is known as a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is when you have the mentality that all things are innate and nothing can change. You can’t because you say you can’t and you never will.
What’s more is you took one problem and you made it four! One of which you have absolutely no control over.
The battle is over before it even began.
Let’s look at how we can manipulate this into a positive self-talk question.
“What can I do today to move me closer to my weight-loss goals?”
Bam! You are already setting yourself up for success. How do we answer this question? With solutions.
-I will cut out all unnecessary sugars.
-I will have my gym bag ready so I can exercise right after work.
-I will run an extra half-mile at the gym.
If you complete one of these you are moving towards your goals and that is a success.
This type of self-talk encourages what is known as a growth mindset. With a growth mindset, nothing is set in stone. You understand skills and outcomes are not predetermined. This helps you identify the actions needed for results and you go after them.
Another aspect where positive self-talk will save you is overcoming adversity.
Instead of asking “Why is this happening to me?”
Ask “What can I do to overcome this?”
Not only will you be 100% more likely to succeed but you will learn something new in the process. Knowing you can figure out how to overcome adversity is the greatest aspect of a growth mindset. This will set you up for future success when adversity rears its ugly head again.
Another adversary you must learn to overcome is the negative person. It’s important to wash your hands of situations involving negative people. It’s not only selfish of them to push their negativity on you, but it also promotes a fixed mindset.
In their minds, the situation is what it is and there’s nothing anyone can do. So what do they do? They sit there and stew over it.
That is not conducive for self-talk that promotes a growth mindset.
Change your environment
Attitudes are contagious. Make it your life’s mission to surround yourself with people that inspire and push you. You should find individuals with similar passions and goals. Find someone to be your mentor who can coach you and nurture a strong growth mindset.
As you may have seen in the video above Roger Bannister was the first person who broke the four-minute mile. Before then it was considered impossible.
His main competitor John Landy, was actually a stronger runner. He came within two seconds on seven different attempts. He later stated, “Someone may achieve the four-minute mile… I don’t think I can.”
46 days after Bannister broke the record Landy beat it by three seconds.
What set these two individuals apart? Bannister had a coach and Landy didn’t. Landy was by all means a great athlete, but he lacked a coach to nurture a growth mindset through positive self-talk. This ultimately resulted in him only being able to break the four-minute mile after Bannister.
Once Landy said, “I don’t think I can” he switched to a fixed mindset and fulfilled his prophecy. It wasn’t until he saw it was possible to break the four-minute mile was he finally able to do the same.
Practice makes perfect
Unlike Bannister’s mile run, this is going to take a lot longer than four minutes. Some are born with the growth mindset while others need a bit of nurturing.
This is where you will need to put in at least some effort. It’s important to remember, no matter how difficult it may seem anything is attainable through positive self-talk and hard work.
To get started here’s what Leo recommends:
… I want you to write down the dis-empowering words you use on a daily basis, and then replace them with words that will empower you.
For example change:
I Hate to I Prefer
Frustrated to Challenged
Irritated to Stimulated
Overwhelmed to Busy
Disappointed to Underwhelmed
Fearful to Curious
Terrible to Different
Rejected to Misunderstood
He also recommends writing down five common self-talk phrases you often face. Once you’ve figured out five good ones reword them in a way that promotes a positive outcome.
For example, instead of saying, “I feel fine today” say, “I feel awesome!”
Another good one is change, “I’m having a terrible day” to “How can I make this an awesome day?” Remember, actions follow thought and positive actions come from a growth mindset.
Write the phrases down and say them to yourself every day before heading out the door.
Here are some more common examples of poor self-talk that results in a fixed mindset.
-I really want that (candy, cake, soda).
-It’s been a long day. I’m too tired to work out.
-I didn’t get enough sleep last night.
-That (person/situation) really pisses me off.
-I really don’t feel like putting in the effort right now.
Let’s turn this around into positive self-talk.
– Yes, that looks good but will it get me closer to my fitness goals? No. What can I do right now that will?
-It’s been a long day. A kick-ass workout is exactly what I need right now. It will make me feel better.
-Today will be a challenge. I stayed up too late last night. How can I prevent this from happening again?
-This person/situation presents a unique challenge. What can I do to better myself in this situation?
-Putting in effort when I least want to will make me a stronger person in the long run. Let’s do this!
What a difference you can make by simply rewording the way you talk to yourself. Before you know it, it will be second nature.
Leo concludes his article by making one last suggestion. Ask yourself some questions every morning and every night. Write them down and put them somewhere you will remember to read them. Make sure they are questions that hold special meaning to you and your situation.
Here are my morning questions.
-What makes me happy in my life right now?
-How can I move closer to achieving my life goals today?
-What ignites my fire and is motivating me to succeed?
-What can I do today to make myself a better person?
-What can I do to have a positive impact on someone else’s life?
My night questions.
-What did I do to move closer to my goals today?
-Did I practice honesty and integrity today?
-Was my behavior today conducive to my success?
-What did I learn today?
Life is what you make it. Why not be the best version of yourself? Even if you think this is complete hogwash, how can altering the way you talk to yourself cause any harm? I guarantee if you change your self-talk it will affect your outlook on the world for the better.
If you like what you’ve read or you have a question please leave a comment below.
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