No doubt, you have probably heard someone suggest that you should think positive. Sounds good, right? We’d all love to flip a switch, watch negativity vanish and become this walking beacon of positivity—inside and out. I realize it’s not that simple … but it really is one of the most important things you can do to improve your life. How you feel every hour, every day, every minute is directly related to your thoughts. Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. If you let your thoughts run negative—your mood will go right with it. (If you don’t believe me, the next time you are in a bad mood, ask yourself what you were just thinking about …) Why you may already know that you should think positive, you may not know how to do it. Positive thoughts lead to positive change. Here are some great tricks to turn your thoughts positive.
Realize your thoughts are more powerful than just a good or bad mood. Your thoughts shape more than your feelings, they control your physical shape too. We have about 60,000 thoughts a day and researchers report that approx. 70% of them are negative. If you were forced to verbalize all of your thoughts would you be embarrassed about your negative attitude? Negative self-talk is a defense mechanism and it weakens your whole body. Say this is your running dialogue: “I’ve always been overweight. Everyone in my family is overweight. I can’t picture myself any other way.” Your thoughts are keeping you stuck at your weight. You will probably skip workouts because you feel defeated anyway (how could you not with those thoughts?) and then you are in a no win cycle.
Here’s what you should do …
Don’t wait for your feelings to change, consciously change your thoughts. Too many people wait until they feel differently to make changes or take action, but then change never happens. It’s the old “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” Use your internal voice to get motivated and hopefully you’ll soon embraced the change. I can’t tell you how many clients have told me that they will always hate exercise. But after I motivate them and they start to see change, they begin to find joy in this new habit. Imagine if your running dialog was: “I’ve got this. I can do this. I didn’t gain this weight overnight, so it isn’t coming off overnight, but I am going to take it pound by pound. I am committed. I am going to see what I can do today.” If you have those kinds of thoughts (and attitude!) you will go to the gym, hit the trail or do your exercise DVD. Your thoughts will fuel your motivation.
Related: How To Have A Positive Body Image
Be on your own side. If other people could hear your thoughts, would they think you are on your own side? Back to that self-talk: it’s amazing how many people are self-critical and put themselves down left and right—silently. Sure, we can all point to something about ourselves that we don’t love, but that doesn’t have to be your focus. Focus on what you do like about yourself. Focus on your strengths. Make decisions that boost how you feel about yourself. If you find yourself rolling out the criticisms in your head, interrupt yourself and tell yourself to stop. Replace that negative thought with a positive thought or compliment about you.
Lean toward supportive and nurturing. Sometimes people seek out a personal trainer because they need the support. While I am all for that, your support should also begin with you. Be your own coach first. Give yourself a nudge on days when you need extra encouragement to exercise. Ask yourself, “what would my trainer tell me?” If you get off track and indulge in unhealthy food and then feel guilty, choose not to beat yourself up. Choose instead to trade that indulgence with a more intense workout. If you can turn guilt into motivation, you are turning negative into positive—and that’s how you will feel. Whenever I am having a bad day or I’m steaming mad about something, I take a deep breath and instinctively start talking to myself: picking myself back up from the boot straps and realizing that I am my own best cheerleader.
Be flexible in your resolutions. Some people like to go full tilt with their New Year’s resolutions and resolve to be this totally different person next year. And then when the first sign of the old you appears—say a week or two into the new year—you get totally discouraged and give up. For example, instead of giving up sugar entirely, cut back on it. Instead of promising yourself you will work out every day, promise yourself that you will never go more than two days without a workout. A black or white approach to resolutions will only leave you feeling defeated. There is no contest about how many days you can keep a resolution; remember the goal is a healthier you. Make small changes. Work on changing bad habits one at a time. Be forgiving if you aren’t perfect. Just make a better decision the next day. You will be amazed at how small changes add up to big results. This flexible approach will allow you to win more, and when you feel successful—your thoughts are guaranteed to be positive!