Mental Conditioning, it’s not what you think, or is it

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Conditioning your mindset to be resilient, focused on the positive and open for growth is something anyone can achieve.  This is not a generic, pop out of bed, skip around the house, and “life is perfect” idea.  You take each day head on and express your potential.  You go after your goals.  Building a strong and confident mindset is possible.  You can achieve some amazing goals by developing a tough mental muscle.
Here are some strategies to start with:

Acknowledge, then rearrange negative self-talk.  Everyone, I mean everyone, experiences some form of negative self-talk.  Whether it’s self-limiting beliefs, useless complaining, or self-deprecating abuse, this mentality will drain your energy.  You have to be very self-aware of your thinking and how it is affecting your Life.  What do you see yourself doing in 1-year?  3 years?  5 years?  10 years?  If you want to begin a plan to move in the direction you see yourself, IT. All. STARTS. WITH. YOUR. THOUGHTS.  How you manage your internal dialogue will directly determine your path.  As you go through your day, be attentive to all of your thinking.  Catch yourself and acknowledge when a negative thought comes into the head.  Pause, think about what you said, then rearrange that thought to a more supportive and positive one.  Example: “I can’t do this last repetition.” Instead, “This last repetition will be tough, but I got this, dig deep, in fact do one more.”  Simply acknowledging the thought is the catalyst to conditioning the mindset to think in a more positive manner.  Here is another example: “Gosh, why can’t I lose weight?”  Instead, “I will stay consistent with my healthy habits and focus on my fitness in the gym.  The weight will come off if I am patient and nutritionally aware.”  If you can stay in the present and are self-aware of your thoughts throughout the day, over time, you will condition your mindset to be more positive, proactive, resilient, courageous and supportive to all of your goals.

Meditation.  Many people tell me they “are not good at meditation, I can not turn off my thoughts.”  Just so you know nobody can completely turn off their thoughts.  Even when we are sleeping, we are thinking.  Meditation can create mental clarity, less brain fog, release tension and anxiety, and improve your memory.  Meditation can be any form that you choose to stick to consistently.  You can do guided meditation (look up on YouTube), unguided meditation (quiet, calm environment), transcendental meditation (mantra repetition) or visual meditation (looking at paintings or picturesque landscaping).  All of these variations have value.  I recommend if you are just starting out, find a guided meditation you like and be consistent to form a habit.  Once you build the routine to stick, then you can explore into other variations.  Be patient during your session.  If all you have is 5 minutes, be committed for those 5 minutes.  Do your best not to cut it short because, “you have other things to do.”  Doing this meditation will improve your productivity and output in your “other things”.  Once you improve and see the benefit, then you can increase your time.  Fifteen to twenty minute sessions seems to be the sweet spot to really tap into the subconscious mind and release tension and negative energy.  If you are not there yet, that’s ok, stick to your time frame.  To simplify even more, practice taking 10 deep, mindful inhales/exhales 3-4 times throughout the day.  This simple daily practice will release anxious nerves and give you a sense of optimism and serenity.  Just like building any skill, it takes time to improve, so be patient through the process.

Exercise or train for a sport.  Through the process of getting fit and gaining performance, you will condition your mindset.  They go hand in hand.  Many people come into the fitness world wanting to improve their body.  And there is nothing wrong with that specific desire.  But the mental change that transpires is something that surprises people.  Exercise releases stress, disperses endorphins (“feel good” chemical) throughout the body and improves your mood.  All of these biological happenings will help you strengthen your mindset.  I will take it a bit further and encourage you to compete and challenge yourself in a sport or activity (running, triathlon, cycling, Spartan racing, bodybuilding, crossfit, etc).  The journey of competition and consistently pushing yourself to be your best is such a mental process.  The mindset is challenged along the way.   Through the journey, the mental strength and resilience that you will create will be life changing.

Circle of influence.  Who you spend the most time with will directly influence your mindset.  If you are consistently around negative, energy sucking people, it will be a tough environment for you to strengthen your mindset.  Instead find a positive and encouraging group of people to be constantly around.  I understand that sometimes this is out of your control (who you work with, teammates, bosses, etc.).  Who you spend time with outside of those negative environments becomes even more important to your mental health and vitality.  Find a gym, a fitness coach, a running group, a few workout partners, a life coach or mentor, a group of friends, or a church group, basically any group or individuals that encourages and supports your goals and journey.

Don’t just focus on the physical; go build that mental strength also.

Thank you for reading!

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