Mind Shift: The Power of Perspective
I dropped an egg on my kitchen floor this morning. A raw egg. Ooops. You know that feeling. Shi*.
This year has been full of... surprises for me. You just never know what is around the next bend. For me, it was a new sport, a black diamond XC ski run and a headfirst crash into the boards. 6 months of persistent whiplash symptoms and a scratched race card, things aren't quite turning out how I had expected them to. Shi* happens. I can be pissed off or I can be neutral or I can pick up my rose coloured glasses and let the light in...ahhh...that's better! Of course, I have gone through all of the stages of emotions, it is only natural. But as a 'half full' gal, I chose to fast forward through the negative ones and get to the good stuff. Gratitude- for the health I do have, for the many other ways I can move my body, for the beautiful place I live in and the beautiful people I live with. Racing is fun, but, it is just one small part of this wonderful life. Recently, a new perspective was handed to me...from a card reader. With fear in her eyes, she told me that I should be grateful I had crashed when I did. She told me that if I hadn't jumped out of the tracks and launched headfirst into the snowbank when I did, that I would not have survived the crash at the bottom of the hill. Maybe. Maybe not. But until that moment I hadn't actually seen that perspective at all. Woah. Game changer. She got me thinking that I should not just be positive, but that I should actually be grateful for the experience. Yup. Mind shift. Perspective is powerful stuff.
Shi* happens. To everyone. Every day. For ever and ever. Little shi*. Big shi*. In between shi*. But it isn't the shi* that causes us grief. Nope. You must know where I am going with this...
In life, there will always be problems. It is how we choose to deal with them, that determines the quality of our existence.
- Unknown, but I love him.
I stumbled upon that quote in a little book of affirmations many moons ago. And it stuck. I cannot count the number of times I have whispered this under my breathe or forced it to run through my mind. I hold onto this mantra because I know it is true. Perspective is a powerful mental tool for people who choose to live a life 'half full'. Half-full people might seem to have a 'positive' gene but our outlook on life comes from a combination of nature and nurture. We cultivate our world experience through conscious thought. We create and solidify physical pathways in our brains and bodies with the thoughts we create every day. We practise and become, for better or worse, half-full or half-empty people with our very own thoughts...shaping and shifting our very reality.
Sure, it's more complicated than that. Life can be hard. Brutally hard. Unforgiving and unrelenting and inescapable. But our perspective plays an enormous role in how we perceive, feel and ultimately experience life's hardships. Do we want to magnify the negative or expand on the positive? This is, in fact, a choice, although it is very easy to lose sight of. Note: If you are in a place where you cannot control your thoughts, or you are unable to break free from an unhealthy or negative perspective, I urge you to ask for help. Today. Not tomorrow. There are many resources waiting for you and you must reach out to set yourself free. Please reach out.
With practise, consistency and perseverance you can train your thoughts to move from the negative to the positive and create lasting changes to the actual structure of your brain. The power of mental training is remarkable. Just as you can create new neuromuscular pathways, increase your strength and develop your energy systems through consistent training, you can also train your brain to change shape and grow stronger...eventually creating your own half-full reality. There are many strategies for training your brain to shift to the positive (or the negative!) but consistent, frequent, longterm practise is the key. Unlocking the power of perspective can make an enormous difference in your life, relationships and sport. It's free. It's accessible to everyone. And you can do it in your jammies. What's to lose?
Here are some ideas to add to your mental training toolbox and help you with your own 'Mind Shift':
1. Practise daily affirmations. What the mind conceives, the body believes. Fake it til you make it. But you must BELIEVE it too. Choose something that is meaningful to you and repeat it every single day. If you are a visual person, you may choose to take a photo of something that brings you joy and makes you feel positive. Keep these photos and words in a folder or, even better, print them off and frame them! Make a calendar out of your positive thoughts and images, and put them somewhere that you will see them every day. Get some ideas from the queen of affirmations ...Louise Hay.
Life is good and I am full of life!
I am healing and growing stronger every single day.
Happiness is a state of mind.
*What affirmations do you use?
2. Thought blocking. Simple but very effective in changing old thought patterns. When a negative or unwanted thought enters your mind, visualize a big red STOP sign and hear the word (or visualize it) STOP! Do not allow your mind to keep practicing negative thought patterns, otherwise they will continue to get stronger. Instead, stop them in their tracks. Finish up by replacing the negative thought with one of your positive affirmations. Every negative thought you have, suddenly becomes a great training opportunity to develop your half full self!
3. Practise daily gratitude. Flood your mind with 'half-full' thoughts and drown out the negative nelly. Every morning or every night, practise daily gratitude. Take a moment to right down at least one thing you are grateful for. The list of things we have to be grateful for are truly endless but it can take practise to gain this perspective if you have negative thought patterns. Eventually, you will have a nice long list (pages!) of things you are grateful for, and you can read through this list when you encounter negative thoughts or experiences.
What tools do you use to shift your own mind? I would love to hear what tools you have in your mental training toolbox!
Shi*t happens. But usually, it's only in our minds:)