Do you ever feel like you are in a battle with your own mind and you are losing. I wonder how many of us feel like we are our own worst enemy and not our greatest fan? I suspect a great many. What would it be like if we decided to show up for ourselves and change our thoughts? Could changing the way we think change our lives? Recently I had an experience that proved to me what we tell ourselves matters more than we could imagine.
The other day I was in a time crunch on a ride so I was pushing hard to get home. It was getting pretty tough to keep up my speed over the last 10 miles. On one hand I wanted so badly to slow down and relax, but on the other I wanted to push through and go faster. I was completely annoyed with the fact that I was struggling.
My body was tired, my neck was killing me and I was trying like hell not to let my speed drop below 16 mph. I was suffering! Then I caught a glimpse of my shadow on the pavement, had a moment of clarity and made a choice.
Instead of succumbing to the internal chatter of how bad it felt, how tired I was and other thoughts of lack such as “How am I ever going to complete this century ride I’m training for?” (BTW as of this edit, I rocked that century ride!); I looked down at my shadow and said. “You can do this. You got this. I know you can do this. You may be uncomfortable but that is okay. You are strong, fast and capable”.
Guess what? I clocked 18 mph most of the way back before my last mile to cool down.
Decide To Show Up For Yourself.
So what happened?
I decided to show up for myself, that’s what.
I decided to be my own supportive motivational force and embrace the “suck” as we in the cycling world like to say.
I’m learning that cycling is 90% mental battle, which so mimics life.
What would happen if I did this more in the rest of my life?
What if when I had a thought like “Ugh, I’m not motivated or inspired to write, work out, eat healthy, or whatever the case may be” I chose a different kind of self talk.
What if I told myself that each decision I make moves me closer or further from my dreams and that those dreams where right there, just an arms length away.
Look At Your Perceived Limitations.
Argue for your limitations and you get to keep themLiz Gilbert- Big Magic
So why does what we tell ourselves matter?
Because we believe the story we tell ourselves. Then we act on those stories as if they are true when maybe they aren’t. The result is more of the same, which likely isn’t what we wanted in the first place.
All this got me thinking about other things have I been telling myself that don’t serve me? In what other ways am I not showing up for myself?
I’ve certainly been guilty of beating myself up a lot over the last couple months for not making the rides I had planned, not eating as well as intended and not writing as much or lately at all.
But on a deeper level….What are the stories I’ve been telling myself about life in general, stories I bet many of us have in common? Like change is hard. Money doesn’t come easy. Hard work is the only way to accomplish anything. If you don’t stick to your plan, you fail, period. If you disappoint someone else you’re a piece of crap. Your needs aren’t a priority.
Theses are just a few I’ve come up with. Trust there are many more! Do I want those things to be true? Do you? Ah, NO, didn’t think so.
Here’s a thought. What if we blow a bunch of sunshine up our butts and see what sticks even if we don’t 100% believe it at the time. My theory is that if done often enough maybe it will become a habit and that internal dialog with permanently change.
Practice Telling Yourself The Story You Want To Live.
So let’s practice telling ourselves the story we want to live.
Sounds easy right. But how to actually do it? Now that’s the million dollar question.
The key to changing our outcomes is two fold: paying attention to our internal dialog and then changing the language we use like I did when I was riding to hit my goal.
Daily affirmations are a way to change that negative internal dialog and set yourself up for success.
Here are a few examples of positive affirmations to try, ones that I certainly plan to use more of.
- Change is easy for me.
- I continually attract abundance into my life.
- I know my value.
- Struggling is a choice I make.
- I experience the richness and fullness of life.
- I trust the process of life and I am safe.
- Letting go is easy.
- I love and approve of myself.
Change: An Inside Job.
Paying attention and being mindful of our thoughts is not so easy. Sometimes it’s downright tricky and that negative chatter is so quiet, just like a whisper, almost inaudible. Or we are simply so used to it, it’s our norm and we are not accustomed to tuning into what we are telling ourselves. Our focus is outside ourselves.
When I’m on the bike and my muscles are screaming it’s pretty easy to identify the thoughts of OMG I’m going to die or I just want to stop… but in other places like when I get up to write in the morning and am not feeling so creative…. The subtle “Who do you think you are, you’re not creative” tape that plays in my mind may actually look like procrastination or worse, getting a terrible case of the “I can’ts” because insert “excuse”.
So the trick is to be mindful and develop inner awareness or witness to our thoughts and beliefs. This takes practice, but it gets easier with time to the point it starts to become automatic. I think the best way to go about it is to celebrate every time you catch a negative thought and give yourself some positive reinforcement for doing it! After all, it’s proof that you are changing and growing in the direction you are choosing.
Negative thoughts lead to negative behaviors. These are a few examples from my life.
- Minimizing myself– apologizing for things that don’t need an apology. The knee jerk “I’m sorry” to nearly every situation the seems to have gone sideways, my fault or not.
- Being pessimistic– waking in the morning thinking “oh shit it’s another day” vs thinking about all the things I am grateful for and get to do.
- Whining, stomping my feet and acting like a toddler when things don’t go my way. (Yes I am a grown ass woman and yes I do this from time to time, not proud but it’s truth).
So How Do We Change Our Attitude Towards Life?
Someone much wiser than me once told me that gratitude is an action not just a word. I use a daily gratitude list to pull me out of my downward spirals but I also add a little something extra. I write down one or two ways I can demonstrate my gratitude. This helps me change my behaviors.
Other times I have to work backwards by identifying the behaviors that don’t serve me, (see above) to find the negative thoughts proceeding them.
So I invite you to join me and decide to show up for yourself. Decide to pay attention to the stories you are telling yourself, what behaviors you are choosing. Ask yourself if that is really what you want your truth to look like, your life to look like.
Action Steps To Make Change Happen.
Here’s a list of action steps I’m implementing in my life. Hope you find them helpful.
- Write the story of the life I want to live.
- Be mindful of negative thoughts and congratulate myself when I catch one!
- Daily positive affirmations.
- Daily Gratitude List: Three things I’m grateful for and one actionable way I will demonstrate my gratitude for each.
- Write drown the behaviors I want to change and what the opposite of of those behaviors are. Commit to practicing the opposite. Act as if right!
Be careful what you think because your thoughts run you life.Proverbs 4:23
I say we write our own damn stories!
I say we show up for ourselves and become our own biggest fans!
I say we refuse to be victims of our own thoughts!
Who’s with me?
So here’s to blowing some sunshine up you know where! Hope it finds it’s way to your thoughts, mind, and heart.
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.Buddha