Updated: Apr 1
All this month I’ve been running a Mindset Challenge – simple tools to try and help you get your mind working with you to help you achieve your goals. I’ve been using examples from exercise but you could just as well apply them to other areas of your life.
Using mantras to help keep you focussed
In the first week we looked at using mantras, a simple phrase you can say to yourself when things are getting hard, when you find yourself wanting to give up on something. So often in our training our mind gives up way before our body needs to.
In the live, online classes I teach we’ve been using mantras to help us get through the challenging sets – the bits where your mind is saying “I can't do this”, “this hurts”, “ I don’t want to do this”.
By saying something simple to yourself like “I can do this”, “ I am strong” or “this is making me stronger” we can move our mind on from the negative, and so often self-fulfilling, mindset to one that helps us get the job done.
Having some simple cues to focus on can help in the same way. Imagine you're doing a plank, rather than just thinking "Arrgh, I want this to be over" walk through the body using simple cues to improve your plank.
Rather than ignoring fears, try breaking them down
Then we looked at how trying to shove negative thoughts away ‘in a drawer’ only helps grow their power, whereas when we ‘take them out of the drawer’ and break them down by shining the rational light of reason on them, we often find the thing we’re scared off isn’t nearly as bad as we thought it was.
Finding gratitude where we wouldn't expect it
And finally we looked at one of my favourite exercises – Five Fingers of Gratitude, reviewing our day, or something we find challenging, to find five things we’re grateful for. It can help change our natural inclination towards a negative mindset to instead see the positives.
At first it can seem quite forced, but if you do it regularly, it can have a powerful impact on your way of viewing the world.
Taking the example of a training session we’re struggling with, as well as helping us enjoy that session more, next time we’re contemplating doing that session again, we’ll have a positive bank of memories to draw on, in place of dreading the session.
This week's challenge - what are you going to take forwards?
So this week's challenge is to reflect on how you've found these tools? Have they helped you get through a session, or develop a more positive attitude towards something challenging? If so, what are you going to take forwards?
Make a commitment to yourself now of one or two things (no more, start small and build up) you're going to keep doing. I'd advise making a note in your diary at the end of the day or the week to review how you did. Not to beat yourself if you forget to do it, but just to remind yourself you found it helpful and to give it another go.
Remember change takes time, and our brain likes to default to the negative, so I wouldn't expect anything life-changing straight off! Think of it like that plank, you have to keep training it to improve, but if you do it consistently each week, over time you'll start to see the improvements.