We often hear that what we tell ourselves defines our reality, which obviously makes plenty of sense but have you ever actually tried it?
I noticed how it affects me the other day as I was exercising. I was struggling, as my instructor had put heavier weights on than usual and my mental dialogue went something like this, “Jeez, I don’t think I can’t do this, oh man I don’t think I’m going to make it to 15, I think I’ll stop at 12. 12 is fine, I don’t need to get to 15. I have to do four more sets of 15 so I need to conserve my energy because this is hard, I don’t think I should go to 15. I’ll go to 12.”
But then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and reminded myself that no one had forced me to come to gym, I was here of my own accord and therefore it was pointless to do anything less than my best, right? Which is all very well, but it didn’t change the fact that I still had four more sets of 15 to do and my triceps where already burning. But I made up my mind to get to 15 and I did – but only just!
However, I noticed that after I’d made my mind up to get to 15, my internal dialogue began to change in order to encourage that outcome, it went something like this, “ok, you’re doing really well, keep breathing, keep going, you’ve got this, one at a time, one by one, keep breathing, look at you go, you’re doing great. You can do this.”
And then it dawned on me, I can do this. I can. It became a mantra for me – and the more I told myself, the more I believed it, despite the fact that my muscles were tiring and aching, I was able to reach my target of 15 repetitions each time.
Had I continued on my previous path of telling myself why I couldn’t achieve it, I would have talked myself out of being able to do it- and therefore it’s vital to understand that what we tell ourselves is often the defining factor between our success and our failure.
What we tell ourselves is so crucial to our outlook, to our state of mind, to our health and to our self-confidence and yet we tend to tell ourselves horror stories instead of fairytales. Yet, when you stop bashing yourself and start actively supporting yourself through your thoughts, you begin to achieve what is important to you.
Often when it comes to me putting myself “out there” in the public eye, through either my writing or my work, I often have moments of feeling deeply insecure and inadequate, until I remind myself that, “I am good enough”.
When I say this to myself it reminds me that I don’t actually have to be the very best, I only have to be good enough. This relieves me from crippling myself with unrealistic expectations of perfection, which ultimately end up scaring me out of doing anything rather than helping me to achieve a level of excellence. When I remind myself that I am good enough, I remember that I don’t have to be the very best, I just need to try my very best – and that’s all anyone can ask of me anyway, so it’s all good.
These two simple sentences, “I can” and “I am good enough” help to transform my perspective, they help clear the imaginary fears and insecurities from my path and they remind me that I am capable of achieving whatever I put my mind to.
If you’re telling yourself that you can’t, or that it’s too hard, or that it’s unfair, you are making it a reality for yourself. Try telling yourself something different – the next time you are faced with a challenge, instead of saying, “I can’t do this” try telling yourself, “You know what, maybe I can do this….I can do this. I am doing this.” And see how it transforms you.
In order to achieve goals or break habits and addictions, it’s so important to tell yourself helpful things and not to add to your burden by abusing yourself with negative opinions and unrealistic expectations of yourself. By nourishing yourself with positive, uplifting and supportive words, you assist yourself through the scary and challenging stages of your life’s journey and you allow yourself to grow and learn, rather than cut yourself down and hide yourself from the world.
Start by simply identifying the negative statements you tell yourself and begin replacing them with positive affirmations about yourself.
As you read this, you maybe thinking, “It’s not that easy, I can’t do that”. Well, I’m telling you can and you can start by telling yourself right now, “I can do this” and then repeat that action every time you catch yourself putting yourself down, because the truth is, you can do it and you are good enough, so why not begin telling yourself so?