It’s so easy to give up. It’s so much easier to tell yourself that you can’t do something and then move on with your day. It’s so much easier to tell yourself all of the reasons that you won’t accomplish whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.
Or is it?
The majority of people listen to that little jerk who rears his ugly head and spits on your dreams. You know that voice in the back of your mind? The one that tells you all the reasons that you won’t be able to do something that will ultimately make you happy and bring you peace of mind. It doesn’t seem to matter what it is. He’s always there trying to crush your dreams. I hate that guy. He’s like tissue on your shoe. It’s hard to shake him.
The trick? You just have to learn how to shut him up.
You know what I’m talking about. Maybe you want to change your diet, or quit smoking? Maybe you want to begin exercising and get in shape? What happens? You’re all set that morning to begin your new goal. Just when you think you’re good-to-go, that jerk in the back of your mind starts to list all of the reasons that you shouldn’t do it today! He begins to tell you it will be too hard, and that maybe now isn’t a good time. He will say you probably won’t be able to stick with it, so what’s the point. He tells you, that cigarette or that big mac will be so worth it!
Tell that guy to shut the hell up! How do you do this?
We spend so much time convincing ourselves that we can’t do whatever it is we set out to do. The thing is, if we just spent that time actually doing it, rather than obsessing over IF we will do it, and all the reasons that we can’t, it could’ve been done already!
Choose where to focus your energy. You either focus your energy on telling yourself you can’t, or you focus your energy on actually getting it done.
When your mind is entertaining the negative self-talk, you have to change the message. Are you new to this? You will find that on your first attempt to change the message, your mind will immediately go back to the negative self-talk. That’s okay. That’s normal. You just have to redirect it again, and again, and again. It’s kind of like a toddler. You have to be patient, you have to be kind. You just redirect, and eventually they get the idea. Eventually, their reactions become correct and more automatic.
You have to learn to ignore the jerk inside.
I recently starting jogging again, and that a-hole keeps trying to get my attention. I take my kids to school in the morning and I know once I get home, I’m going to jog. I have certain days I jog and certain days that I rest, so I have my plan. I have my goal in mind for the number of miles I will jog that week. I get dressed before school so that I’m ready to go as soon as I get back.
You know what continues to happen? I’m in the car rider line waiting to drop off Kid #1 in the rotation, and I think to myself… Oh boy, I’m pretty tired today. I’m not sure how far I’ll be able to run. I have too much work to do, maybe I should skip today…I don’t think I drank enough water. Maybe I should hydrate today and then run tomorrow. Blah, blah, blah…
You know what else continues to happen? On those days that I think I can’t do it, those are the days that I break my record and jog the farthest. Those are most often my best days. It’s crazy. I think to myself, why does it happen this way? Most days when I’m in the mood to jog, and don’t have to mentally prepare myself, I actually get tired quicker!
The reason behind this is easy. I have to spend more time mentally preparing myself on the days that I’m not feeling it, so my brain is more prepped. Therefore, I end up doing even better than when I wasn’t mentally forced to prepare at all!
It’s so mental. Most of what we achieve in life is determined by our thoughts and our reactions to our thoughts. Our achievements are not determined by outside factors. We’ve basically already decided in our minds how much we will achieve before we even get started.
People think that that our limitations are physically based when in fact, they’re so much more mentally based! When you mentally prep, you will do better. Period.
That’s how our brains work. If you tell yourself you can’t, then you won’t. If you tell yourself that you can, then you will. It may not happen immediately, but it will eventually happen. If you push on. The end. It really is that simple.
It’s when we spend time thinking of all the reasons that we shouldn’t, that we don’t. You have to learn to turn off that voice. You have to turn it off. You have to tell yourself, NOPE. I’m not listening to you. I will do this. I may not do it perfectly, but I will do it. Once I do it enough, it will get closer to perfect.
Nike’s slogan is in fact brilliant. Just do It. Nike. It’s so true.
Just do it already. No more excuses. You deserve better. Don’t let that jerk give you lame excuses as to why you can’t.
We spend our time entertaining that stupid voice in our head. If you practice shutting him off, as soon as he starts, I promise you that you will get better at it.
You just have to practice. Like anything in life, practice makes perfect. If you aren’t mentally strong, it will take you longer. If you have a quitter’s mentality and attitude, it will be a real challenge. That’s okay!
Let me say it again. I promise you. If you practice shutting off that voice, eventually it does get easier. Eventually you can shut it down so fast it’s pretty amazing. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish once you learn how to do this.
I’m not saying it will happen within days. It may not even happen within weeks. Don’t let that discourage you. If you keep at, it will happen. What if it takes you a year? What if it takes you two years to truly retrain your brain to think more positively? Think about that in reference to your total life span. Think about that in reference to your overall happiness.
It’s never too late.
When that little voice starts to tell you that you can’t, you cannot entertain him. Don’t entertain him just like you wouldn’t entertain a real life person telling you that you can’t.
Instead of telling yourself that you love cigarettes. Change the message. Get a mantra. When I quit smoking I told myself. I do NOT smoke anymore. I’m done. I had to repeat that a LOT in my head and even out loud. I cried the day before I quit because I knew it was over. My 22-year long relationship with smoking was over. I was dumping cigarettes for good. That first morning I had to talk to myself a lot! I just kept repeating my mantra. Then when I immediately started wanting cigarettes again, I changed the subject in my mind. (and popped in a nicotine lozenge of course to assist with cravings. Breathing exercises help a lot too.)
Do you know how many times I quit smoking? I honestly can’t even tell you. So many times! Will I slip again? Possibly, but will that deter me and will I give up?
If you can learn to change the subject in your mind immediately, then it gets easier.
Do you have control of your thoughts?
Do you struggle with the thoughts that take place in your head? Of course you do! We all do, right? How do you change the subject and move on with your day? You just do it. You move on with your day and onto your next activity. Ignore it like you would an annoying exes text messages. I joke, but you have to turn a mental switch. You have to learn to control your thoughts. You can do it. Maybe not immediately and I’m not saying you won’t ever struggle with the same issues. What I’m saying is that it will get easier. I promise. IF you do the work.
It also helps to switch to a picture you have in your mind of the end result of achieving your goal. For me, I quit smoking and started jogging. I replaced smoking with jogging actually. When you smoke it’s actually similar to a breathing exercise. When you jog, you also have to breathe a certain way so that you don’t get winded. For me it’s very meditative and all about focusing on my breath. I have a trip to the Cayman Islands with my husband this summer. When I begin to get tired jogging, I immediately think of myself in my bikini looking good! It’s funny, it actually makes be get more in the zone and focus when I have a specific picture of my end goal in my mind.
The point is, I choose to entertain my thoughts with the desired end result, instead of the negative self-talk. I also, believe that the weekly running and breathing exercises have helped me learn how to do this. Through breathing and physical activity, I’ve learned how to have more control over the thoughts that I allow in my head.
In fact, I have a friend I’ve known for years that teaches people the art of calming your mind through breath, posture and meditation. She teaches the importance of stillness and awareness in order to speed up success in your life. I truly believe that one of the most important things you can learn to do, in order to achieve peace and happiness in your life, is to learn how to calm your mind. You can check her out at Modern Yinster and I hope you will.
Do you have a plan?
Having a plan helps too. When I quit smoking I got nicotine lozenges, gum, blow pops, tootsie roll pops, the works! I kept them in my bag, at my desk, in the kitchen, etc. I told myself that I would temporarily gain weight because that’s what happens when you quit smoking and that’s okay. I told myself once I had the urges under control, then it was time to address any temporary weight gain.
Priorities. You will have different priorities at different times in your life. You have to be able to rotate them sometimes. You have to be able to change things up a bit and know that while one priority might suffer temporarily to help boost another, that’s okay. Once you have that under control, then you can shift your priority again.
Just take it one step at a time. We tend to think we have to do everything at once. Then we get discouraged because that’s impossible! Then we quit altogether. Do you have lots of stuff you want to change about yourself? Write them down and prioritize them. Pick the most important first. Do that one, and then take it one step at a time.
Starting to eat healthy again? Plan your meals. Don’t wait to think about what you will eat when you’re hungry, right?
Want to spend more time with your kids and be more present? Get a plan. Schedule on your calendar what days you will spend quality time with them. Plan the activity. Plan how much time you will spend. Don’t think about other things you need to get done. When it pops up on your calendar? Just do it.
It takes a lot of mental strength. You have to believe in yourself. You have to be your biggest supporter. Be tough. You are tougher than you think. I promise. In fact, I often tell people who are doing this, to try and think less. When your brain begins to analyze all the why’s and why not’s, redirect it. Stop thinking about it, do something else. Repeat your mantra in your head and then redirect your brain and do anything else that shifts your focus. Stop listening to the jerk in your head. He does not deserve your time. He does not deserve your consideration. He is a jerk.
You can retrain your brain. It’s never too late.
Do you want to have a better relationship with your children?
It’s never too late. Just do it.
Do you want to be a better spouse?
It’s never too late. Just do it.
Are you tired of being unhappy and need to get a life?
There’s no deadline to following your dreams. There’s no deadline to becoming a better person.
The only deadline we have is the one we put on ourselves.
Did you try to accomplish something and still no luck?
Try again! Don’t see it as a failure. Every time you try, you are accomplishing something. Every time you try and come up short, you learn something. It’s not a 100% doomed failure, unless you decide it is.
Every time you try, you create new references in your brain. You learn from those references. Every time you try, you create new neurological connections that are getting you one step closer to accomplishing your goals. When you continue to validate those connections, they just get stronger! You are re-training your brain. You’re creating new neurological connections in your brain. Every time you try, and every time you change your mental thoughts, you are either creating new neurological paths or strengthening the ones that already exist! These paths will get you closer to the end goal. If you keep at it, you will achieve success, eventually. You will overcome whatever it is you’re trying to overcome. You will literally retrain your brain.
Also, when you come you up short, be kind to yourself. If you harp on yourself and continue with the negative self-talk, you are making those negative neurological connections even stronger as well! Yes, it works both ways! If you’re going to think that much, why not think positive? It literally takes the same amount of energy, but has much better results. Change the message. Be kind to yourself. Support yourself.
It’s never too late. Just do it.
Are you generally unhappy and trying to get out of a mental funk? Read “Is Your Mind in Constant Chaos.”
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