“First you make your beliefs, then your beliefs make you”. Marisa Peer
I had a friend who hated working out; she wouldn’t be caught dead in a gym. The closest thing she got to exercising was buying sports leggings and running shoes. However, the only time she wore them was on Saturdays while she did window shopping.
This same girl is now ripped and does not skip a day of workout, even if that requires her waking up an hour earlier than she used to, every morning.
When I saw her, I couldn’t help but ask what led to such a change.
She simply replied, “I became the girl who loves to work out. I convinced myself that I want to be who I am now, and that is exactly what happened.”
Now, if you are a GOT fan, just imagine this moment as encountering Bran Stark in season 7…
So, I had to clarify, “What do you mean you decided that you are the girl that loves to work out?”
She gave me a Tony Robbins look (I don’t know what that means) and she went all motivational and new-age spiritual on me “Layan, everything in life is influenced by our mindset. We create who we are, on a daily basis!”.
“Ok! So, did you start writing affirmations in a journal every day and now you are a changed person?”, I asked with an annoying smirk.
Apparently not, but what she did do is create a new story about herself and her health. Every day, she would say to herself, ‘I love taking care of my health, I love being fit and feeling strong,’ and eventually, she moved to ‘I love working out!’.
She said that she repeated these statements at least four times a day – before she went to the gym and after she returned – before she chose her meals and after eating her food.
This is her story now, and she is living it, believing it and definitely showing it!
We carry stories about everything in our world and these stories impact our confidence, productivity, goals, actions, and above all, our morale.
I too have a story about my health, which is indeed different from my friend’s narrative. I believe that I can never commit to a healthy diet, so I don’t care to even try.
I am sure that I will fail after an hour, as it has happened before too. Whenever I attempted a new commitment, it took me only an hour to give it up. And after a couple of such incidents, I never tried to change the story. I believe that me + healthy food = failure.
What do you think will happen if I start shifting my thoughts towards this topic? Well, this is a glimpse of the story shift:
I believe that I can achieve everything I set my mind to! I love taking care of my body, and it feels great to choose the food I eat. I just love feeling energized, healthy, and active…
…Now, I don’t see myself transforming to The Rock with this new story, but do I predict a noticeable shift from how things currently are.
According to psychologist Marisa Peer, our minds respond to two things: the pictures we are making in our head and the words we are telling ourselves repeatedly. For that reason, changing our self-talk has a tremendous impact on us.
Since our minds absorb and accept whatever we tell ourselves frequently, therefore, she recommends we get into the habit of telling ourselves positive things and be very conscious of the language we use to define our self.
“Your brain has to accept and act off the words and pictures you give it. Give it less intense words and pictures, and you will have a less intense reaction to situations that you previously thought of as stressful.” Marisa Peer
She shares a story when she used this technique. She was on an intense rollercoaster ride with her daughter. They were both terrified, but she wanted to comfort her daughter. So, instead of acting how she felt, she began shouting “I loooove this!”, throughout the ride.
When the ride was over, her daughter asked her if she liked it.
Marisa explained that she wasn’t necessarily enjoying it but she was tricking her mind to relax and have fun!
Her daughter then shared that her mind was impacted by her mother’s excitement and midway through, she was enjoying the ride too!
According to Peer, we can easily change a belief or a story we have about something by changing the words we are saying and the images we are creating around it.
Our brain learns by repetition; the more we repeat the new story, the more our brain will believe it.
For instance, if someone dreads presentations, they might say to themselves, “This a disaster, what a nightmare!” To conquer the fear, all they need to do is rephrase their self-talk to “What a great challenge to have, this is so exciting!” and repeat these phrases every time an anxious thought pops in.
We always have the choice to select the pictures we make in our heads and to form the sentences we say to ourselves.
Think about the language you use to describe yourself, and replace the negative words with more comforting and encouraging words. Switching certain words can make a significant difference.
Instead of saying ‘This is killing me’, try saying ‘This is challenging me’. Replace the phrase ‘I am nervous’ with ‘I am excited’.
I apply this method to almost everything I do in my world. Even when I have to jump into an ice-cold pool (which I absolutely hate), I now prep myself and say to myself ‘I love COLD water, this is very easy for me’. Two seconds later, I find myself enjoying the water, swimming blissfully!
You can use this technique for pre-job interviews too. Instead of thinking
‘Eeekkk!! I am anxious. What if it goes terribly wrong? I hate interviews’ and so on, you could think ‘I am excited to meet the people who have created this remarkable role, and I am very curious about how this meeting will go. I can’t wait to do this. I am so good at meeting people and I know how to handle myself in all situations.’
Marisa used this technique while going through painful stomach injections that she had to take every day for a month. She realized that when she joked around or sang during the injections – the pain diminished profoundly.
To sum up, this process is all about talking yourself into confidence, ease, and excitement, even in the most uncomfortable situations like public speaking, dating, presentations, exams and so on.
Start experimenting with this on a small scale. It could be a conversation that you are dreading or a gathering you are attending. Notice how you describe yourself before the event, or even after it. Pay attention to the repeated words and images that you create around the situation. Then heed to how you feel, and ask yourself “What can I shift in my story? How can I step into more confidence?”.
Believe me. This will change your world!
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