What things do you tell yourself repeatedly? It’s the playlist that is stuck on repeat in your head. The things you repeat over and over and over…are powerful. They can be dangerous if what you are repeating is negative. Are you telling yourself things that strengthen and empower you? Yeah, I wasn’t either. My internal playlist consisted of things that belittled and tore me down. Until I figured out the impact this was having on me. I changed the mantra and changed my life.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” ~ Ghandi
A mantra is defined as a statement or slogan repeated frequently. What you are repeating to yourself has become your own personal mantra. Now, ask yourself, is that mantra one you want to have defining your life? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Here’s the deal-you trust and therefore believe yourself, so what you repeat to yourself is what you believe. The narrative you are telling yourself literally becomes your identity and what you believe about yourself can either close you off from or open you up to possibilities. It quite literally steers the course of your life. Don’t believe me? Alright, I’ll give you an example. This applies to all areas of your life, but I’m going to narrow it down to one for this example. When I used to think about my health, I’d think: I am fat; I am so out of shape; and I’ll never get to where I want to be physically. I won’t fit in at the gym, I can’t do that exercise, and I have so much weight to lose that it is impossible. Thinking those things resulted in me not going to a gym, not trying to do things because I knew I’d be unsuccessful at them and guess what, ultimately not loosing weight. In fact, I believe this line of thought led me to feel overwhelmed and stress eat. I yoyo-ed and struggled with this identity and wasn’t successful in accomplishing what I wanted. This was my identity, related to my health and as they say, you can’t fight who you are, right? Wrong!
“The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become…Your identity emerges out of your habits. Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.” ~ James Clear, Atomic Habits
I realized the reason I was ultimately unsuccessful was that I believed I couldn’t reach my goal, because that isn’t who I believed I was. It wasn’t consistent with what I was telling myself daily. I had to challenge the bedrock foundation of who I believed I was. To change my mindset, I had to determine who I wanted to be. Not “who” as in another person, but as in what characteristics I wanted to have. In relation to health, I wanted to be healthy. This was a long time ago, but do you remember the WWJD bracelets? They were worn so that when you were faced with a situation, that you were unsure of what to do, you could look down at your wrist and reflect on, “What Would Jesus Do”. This was designed to utilize your thoughts, ie. who you wanted to be like, and then impact your actions. The next step here, consists of the same concept as the bracelets. I wanted to be a healthy person so I needed to consider my actions against what a healthy person would do.
“The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.” ~ Maya Angelou
A healthy person would eat things that aid them throughout their day with energy. They would go to the gym and challenge themselves. If I wanted to be a healthy person, I needed to adopt a mindset that supported this. So that my actions would give me the outcome I was looking for. When I changed my mindset to be a healthy person, I wasn’t focused on how fat and out of shape I was, instead my focus was on doing things that I knew a healthy person would do. I began to see results. Telling myself I was becoming a healthy person, encouraged me to change my actions. A healthy person wouldn’t sit on the couch all evening and eat a bag of chips. Okay, maybe sometimes they would allow themselves a treat such as this. But the majority of the time, a healthy person would go to the gym and workout, be active and make healthier food choices. Full disclosure-I ate a chocolate bar and cookies yesterday. Guess what though, I go to the gym regularly and am watching as the scale ticks down at a steady pace, so I am making more healthy decisions than not. My actions support my goals and are in favor of who I am. When I go to the gym, there are things that I am unable to do, but I try them instead of counting myself out before I’ve given myself the opportunity. I don’t get discouraged with the things I cannot do. That only means that I can’t do them yet and it becomes a goal. There were things I couldn’t do four months ago, that I do now without hesitation. It is growth, slow and steady. I didn’t gain all the excess weight overnight and I can’t expect to lose it or go from not exercising to running marathons overnight either. I have a can-do, will try and challenge myself attitude at the gym. Now, I tell myself things like; you’ve done harder things, so give this a try; you can do it; if you can’t do it now, you will be able to soon; challenge yourself; you want this more than it hurts right at this moment. This all supports who I want to be. It is who I am.
“Who you are is defined by the next decision you make, not the last one…Just because you used to be a certain way doesn’t mean you have to stay that way.” ~ Rachel Hollis, Girl, Stop Apologizing
When I realized exactly what I was doing, what I was telling myself, and who I believed I was, I knew I needed to change this in order to change my life in the manner I wanted to. Changing my mindset and adopting mantras that encouraged me to become the best version of myself made the difference. I believe not having a mantra that supported who I wanted to be was why I was unsuccessful in achieving some of my goals in the past. Sure, there are moments when I falter and fall into old habits, the difference is now that I am aware of it, I put myself in check. I’ve given one example above, but this applies in all areas of your life that you want to make changes. Now, it’s your turn, is your mantra supporting you to be who you want to be?