Getting in the Mind Game

I’m fairly certain most people think the hardest part of fitness is the working out part. You see grueling videos of people doing exercises that make you think “uh yeah, right!”. Let’s face it, anybody who has worked hard to be able to do such things likes to show off so you don’t see nearly as many people doing “regular workouts”,, and then on the other end of things you get all these “fail” videos and that can be equally as discouraging. Well, all those discouraging thoughts are part of the “mind game”.

We can’t shut off our brains and they are in fact the hardest part to deal with when getting fit, and really, when it comes to accomplishing any goal. So the remainder of this post will be from the perspective of overcoming our mind’s paralyzing, defeatist, down-talking ways in relation to accomplishing any goal, because when it comes to winning against the cynical mind, it really isn’t a matter of what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s about having the tools to get the dreamer’s mind winning, making dreams reality, and teaching that cynical side to stuff it!

“Conquering” the mind game is the first part of achieving any goal, if you’re not winning at this you’re not going to win, sorry. Be ready to take on your inner jerk.

I’m going to briefly introduce the concept of Raja yoga here, without getting too philosophical on anyone who’s not into yoga (going to point out quickly and immediately for anyone religious that yogic philosophy can be applied within any religion without going against, changing, or losing one’s faith, research for yourself this belief is a myth). The Raja yoga path is important as it pertains to mastery and control of one’s own mind; the ability to focus. And really, any accomplishment of a goal is the ability to focus on it, not be deterred by other, usually external factors that sway you from what you really are going for. Now there’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s the most basic breakdown and is particularly relevant to what we’re discussing here.

Did I mention Raja means King is Sanskrit? So be the king of your mind. Have focus and control. You don’t perceive a king letting everyone run his kingdom. You are the king, so you don’t let external factors and the internal cynic (this part is comparable to a king’s shady advisor with an ulterior motive) rule your kingdom.

We can also make the comparison of the little devil and angel on one’s shoulders so often seen in cartoons. Maybe you’ve never pictured it as such personally, but next time you hear that negative “voice” telling you sarcastically “way to go!” or “as if you could do that” feel free to tell it where to go, or you can thank it for its opinion, “but I’m going to do xyz instead.”

I think most of us aren’t even aware of how often the little devil makes an appearance in our thoughts (start paying attention and you’ll be shocked at its presence), often when we’re doing something we said we wouldn’t (i.e. partaking in a bad habit), that guy isn’t even being rude, more like “oh it’s fine, it’s just one.” or “you’ll be back on that wagon tomorrow”.

How about we compare this little devil to a friend? If your friends were rude to you every time you “messed up”, you’d stop being friends. And if you have friends that continually sabotage your dreams and goals (and we all have at some point) we usually end this friendship, allow it to fade away, address the issue with them (if we’re not willing to let go of the friendship, I recommend this as the healthiest choice) OR we let them continue to be part of the problem—often harbouring resentment—then accept and live with the problem (aka letting go of the goal/dream).

So now you’re ready to beat that little devil and get your mind game on. Excellent! To start that means you have to be aware of the way you talk to yourself, let the little angel do the talking. Self-talk should be only as good, or better than you would deal with an annoyed/angry/frustrated/incompetent customer if you were working a customer service job (and were actually doing a good job!).

On the road to any goal, especially in a realm that is not your strong point, you will have to work hard, overcome setbacks, and probably fail a few times Yup. Fail! More than once. That’s part of life, challenges, and goal achievement. The question is are you going to get back up? You learned to use a knife and fork, walk, maybe ride a bike or swim, didn’t you? You failed a heck of a lot at those for sure. It was ok to be annoyed, angry, frustrated, and incompetent. Heck, it was ok to have a foot-kicking floor-squirming crying tantrum sometimes, and all the while that little angel was just chilling, waiting for you to get it together enough to tell you “it’s ok, just try again.” She was winning customer service awards left, right, and centre when you were a kid! So why are you beating yourself up now?! Stop it!

Now, and this is key, you must believe you can. If you can’t believe it’s possible you will run out of steam very quickly and give up. If it’s a very big goal and impossible to believe, then rework it. Now. Make it smaller and truly believable. Once you have some power of achievement backing you up to wave in the face of the little devil when it tries to get you down, then you can make it bigger because you have proof it’s wrong.

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t—you’re right.” –Henry Ford

Now some tools. Your little devil will automatically tell you this is lame. I thought so too, but really, how’s listening to that crap been working out for you so far? Alright then:

1. Figure out what you want… not what you don’t want! Try I want to be thin, feel fabulous and healthy, I want to be smoke-free and be able to run, I want to be happy with what I have and save money.

2. Frame your goal in the present tense, as if your goal is already a reality. Try I am thin, feel fabulous and healthy, I am smoke-free and be run like a champ, I am happy and have all I need, my savings grow every day.

3. Stand in from of a mirror, close your eyes (yes, I know that makes no sense, it will, one step at a time, ok?).

4. Remember a real time in your life when you felt strong/empowered/confident/able to do anything. A time when you felt all of those would be awesome, but if you have just one or two of those feelings that will do. Note that this memory doesn’t have to be related to your current goal.

5. Remember that moment and how you felt, really get in to that moment, and more importantly, that feeling. When you’ve captured that feeling vividly…

6. .. open your eyes. Look yourself in the eye and say your present tense goal.

7. Do 3-6 daily.

8. Repeat this “goal mantra” every time you have a little devil “you can’t” moment. Do the whole darn thing if the time and place are appropriate. Note that shared public bathrooms will have you looking very weird, so I don’t recommend it. But if it’s one of those make or break moments, weird might be better than failing. Alternately, if you can’t handle screw-faced looks from people it might be best not to attract them when you’re already in a weak state; just use your discretion.

9. Tell that little devil to shove it, you know it sounds lame, but ask: ”what of extraordinary and overwhelmingly positive significance have you done for me lately?!” …………… “Right bud! Thanks for your opinion, but I’m going to try this.”

And now to conclude with something very cliché: you’ve only got one chance at this life thing, so you may as well be in it to win it and try your best. Focus on your progress and praise yourself when you’re doing well. You don’t want your life to be coming to a close only to regret going for mediocre.

Everything you do is a statement of what you think you are wroth. Act accordingly!

© Lisa Kingsley-Correia and Create Fitness Health and Wellness, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Kingsley-Correia and Create Fitness Health and Wellness with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.