We have all heard the clichés. "Mind over matter", "Think positive", "It's all in the mind". Although they seem to make enormous sense, it's just not that simple. If only we could rehearse a couple of positive mantra's and achieve our goals. If only hey?
The problem many of us face is that despite reciting these wise mantras, we lack self-belief. That little voice in our heads is always ready to back chat any positive mantra that we rehearse. What's more, that same little voice sits and waits for us to fail, or not meet a goal. THEN it gets to be right!
That little negative voice in our head needs to be acknowledged and understood BEFORE we can start turning the volume down.
That little voice is important. Why? Because it speaks to that little part in all of us that fears failure and negative judgement. Ever tried to just "ignore" that voice? Did it work? Probably not!
This is where meditation can help. Take some time to tune in to that voice. What is it saying? What feelings does this voice evoke? Sit with the feelings for a few minutes without judgement. It will feel unpleasant...but that's ok.
Now, the mantra you need to start with is this: "It's just a thought" A thought is just that. A thought. We have hundreds of thoughts pass through our heads every day. How many actually happen, or are based on something real and tangible? Not many!!
Those negative self-beliefs are just thoughts. Just because you THINK you are a failure does not mean you ARE a failure. Just because you FEAR people will not like you does not mean that they WILL not like you. Get the idea? By accepting these thoughts without judgement you are limiting their impact on you, and creating space for more positive thoughts to be heard.
Now this takes practice. But it works.
By practicing this strategy you begin to turn the volume down. When the volume is up on max, it's almost impossible to hear anything else. So, by turning the volume down, you are acknowledging that the thoughts are there...but you are choosing not to focus on them.
NOW you can start setting some goals. With a more "rational" mind, you are much more likely to set reasonable and achievable goals!
When you start goal setting – begin with reflecting on your current situation. What are your work and family commitments? Do you have any health issues?
Think of all the potential obstacles BEFORE you start setting goals, and address them.
1. Make sure your goals are SPECIFIC. Simply saying you want to be "healthier" or "fitter", does not give you anything to measure. How will you know when you have achieved it? Break it down; "I want to eat more fruit and veges" "I want to run 10km".
2. You need to be able to measure your progress somehow as this is what will motivate you to keep going. It's easier to measure progress towards a goal such as "eating more fruit and veges", than a subjective goal of feeling "healthier".
3. Your goals must be attainable. In other words, you need to have the ability or necessary skills to achieve the goal. For example, aiming to run a marathon is not attainable if you have osteoarthritis in your knee.
4. Goals must be realistic. Having a goal of competing in the Hawaiian Iron Man is great if you have the means to get there and the time to train. However if you work long hours and have a young family – this goal might be a tad unrealistic.
5. Finally, you need to be clear about timeframe. If your goal is a "big" goal such as running a marathon, then you need to break this down into smaller more timely goals: Eg, running 10km in 6 weeks. It's hard to stay motivated if your goal is light years away!
6. Last but not least, reward yourself when you achieve your goals! New gym gear, or a massage or pedicure are fabulous ways to reward yourself when you achieve! This is also about learning how to be kind to yourself.
Self-nurturance is critical when it comes to achieving your goals.
We all have bad days. Accept it. If you fight it, then that little voice you have worked so hard at challenging will get LOUD, and before you know it one bad day will quickly turn into a bad month, and a bad year.
The secret to getting back on track is to ACCEPT bad days and move through them, while being kind to yourself!
If you keep having bad days, then perhaps it's time to reassess your goals?
Remember, being fit and healthy should not feel like hard work ALL the time. If it does, then you are probably pushing yourself too hard!
Sustainable change takes time, so be patient!