I got into positive thinking and positive self-talk a few years ago. I find them useful. Contrary to what some people say, it’s not about lying to yourself. It’s not about believing the impossible. Everything isn’t always great. Positive thinking is about seeing opportunities in obstacles, and finding lessons in hardships. Yes, it’s about looking on the bright side. Accept the negative and move forward while keeping a positive mindset, but to get results beyond that, you have to take action as well.
Positive self-talk is a way to support yourself in your pursuit of becoming more. More doesn’t have to be faster, bigger, stronger, thinner, or wealthier. It can be as simple as being happier, accomplishing a specific task or goal, or just being more grateful for what you already are and have.
Positive self-talk is another tool to use when things get difficult, you feel down, or things aren’t going how you want. It’s accepting what is, while acknowledging that the situation is temporary, and you have the strength to outlast it until things improve or create improvement.
Acceptance alone isn’t enough for me. I like to remind myself that I’m capable of great things and often add visualization to my positive self-talk.
I have a number of statements that I use in different situations. I call them affirmations, but they could also be mantras, chants, oaths, testimonies, prayers, or whatever you want. Sometimes it’s just about having something to focus on to make positive changes to my mindset.
There was a period of time when I was convinced that I was not going to live much past my 40s, maybe 50s, that I would become sick, miserable and die. Then it started to happen. I was already miserable, which certainly didn’t help my outlook on the future. I started to get quite sick, and I was getting worse.
When I decided that being sick wasn’t part of who I am and being healthy was, I started to see opportunities to support my health and began taking action. I started changing food habits, running and taking responsibility for my own health. Doctors told me it didn’t matter what I ate, but I noticed symptoms got much worse after eating fatty foods, especially when I was dehydrated. I learned more, became more self-aware about my body and its reactions to different things and made further changes.
The positive changes in my mindset and the actions I took built on one another to nearly eliminate my previous symptoms, stop all the medications I was taking, getting into the best shape of my life, and have a much better outlook for my future.
I’ve said it before, but I hated running when I was in the Army. A couple years after I got out, I started running again. I got injured a lot over the first few years, didn’t think I’d ever be very fast and really just had a limited view of what my running potential.
When I started telling myself that I was fast, strong and a good runner, believing it, and learning more from others and what’s worked for myself, my training started going better, injuries decreased, motivation improved. I’ve even expanded my running self-image since then. I exceeded my increased expectations a couple times too.
When I’m out running and it starts getting tough, whether I’m having trouble concentrating, I keep tripping, I feel some imbalance or twinge, I get stiff, sore, tired, or I just hit a low patch, I came up with an affirmation that brings my focus back to my body, running form, foot placement, breath and the to moment in general. “I’m strong, fast, flexible, efficient and sure footed. I’m built for long-distance running over uneven terrain.” If I’m feeling tense somewhere and having trouble releasing it, I’ll add “relaxed” after “efficient”. It works great for me. My concentration improves, I relax, and start to feel lighter on my feet. It doesn’t suddenly give me a boost of energy or make me faster. My mind comes back to the current task of running.
It’s sort of like trying to read a book and watch TV at the same time. If you focus solely on the book, you won’t catch much of what’s happening on the TV. If you let too much of the TV take over your focus, you’ll have trouble reading. My running affirmation focuses me and reminds me that I’m capable of more. Whatever the current difficulty, I can get through it.
Positive thinking and positive self-talk are both great tools for increasing your vision of your potential. But on their own, the best you can hope for is an improved mood. To actually get results with them, you have to take action.