Perform 3: Change Your Thoughts, Change Yourself

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten lost in thinking. My brain goes at mach speed the majority of the time, and often I’m not even aware that it’s happening. I would be willing to bet that you’re in the same boat- your brain often runs away with you, whether it’s into fantasy, the future, past experiences, or just the groceries you need to pick up after work. Our thoughts are a relatively constant stream, and that’s important because if you can notice when your thoughts have launched you into another dimension, you can also control them to set you on the path you want to take.

Our thoughts often manifest as how we speak to ourselves, and I can say that the majority of us aren’t very kind internally. We think things like “I’m not good enough”, “I have to be perfect”, “I suck at this”, “I’m responsible”, “I am a failure”, and the list goes on and on. We all have some form of these negative core beliefs, but the more we allow these thoughts the more powerful they become until we truly identify with them. These negative thoughts impact us in various domains- work, friendships, sports, school, relationships, our self-esteem, etc.

For example, in my sport I have a major hang up when it comes to dressage (if you aren’t a rider: dressage is the prancing stuff that looks like the horse is dancing, google it it’s pretty cool). I have become more and more aware of my negative dialogue with myself when it comes to dressage but I’m still not quite vigilant enough. Not long ago I was in a dressage lesson and I was prompted that we would be working on something I tend to struggle with. My reaction? “UGH!” My instructor called me out on it and she was 100% correct- my thoughts immediately went to my past failures and the teeth grinding efforts that never quite worked out. I already had it in my mind “this isn’t going to go well”. Frankly, I was startled when she called me out on my expression of dismay and realized that my entire body had changed: I was tense, tight through my arms and shoulders, holding my breath, and gritting my teeth. A cornerstone of dressage is relaxation and I most certainly was not exemplifying that. Once I was aware, my trainer and I worked very briefly on changing the dialogue about it. I ended up with something like “we have an opportunity to make this better”. As soon as I changed my self-talk, my body softened, my emotions went from dread to interest, and my riding got that much better. You know what happened? It didn’t go perfectly, but it was improved ten times over.

Changing your thinking isn’t easy at times, and I’m not telling you to go with the sunshines and rainbows version of the thought- I’m asking you to go with a more realistic, kind thought. Instead of “I’m a failure” try “I did the best I could” or “I know where I can improve for next time”. If you need some help with that then shoot me an email or message me on social media! I very much look forward to chatting with you soon.