How Was Your Mental Workout?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Albert Einstein

Often my clients are surprised that creating optimal wellness requires working their mental muscles in the same way they exercise their bodies. It takes discipline, practice, and consistency.

Just as you might plan to get up and do your physical workout, you also need to plan to work your mental muscles if you want to shift your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs to help support and change your actions to get different—and more desirable—results.

How long do you think you will maintain a workout program if you force yourself to exercise through sheer willpower but spend the whole time thinking about how much you hate it? Let’s just say your chances of long-term success will be pretty slim.

But how likely it is that you are going to go from hating to exercise to loving it in an instant? You wouldn’t expect to get off the sofa and be able to go run 3 miles the first time out, so why would you expect to create new mental patterns that quickly?

The truth is that mentally, most people are the equivalent of coach potatoes. They just react unconsciously to the physical stimulus around them in the exact same way they’ve always reacted, or people around them react. They have no idea that they have just as much potential to control their thoughts and reactions as a body builder has to curl a 50-pound dumbbell.

Just because you have hated exercise in the past—or have always hated it—doesn’t mean that you have to hate it forever. That is a practiced reaction that you actually do have the power to change—if you want to.

I know because I was one of those people. As a kid, I was not physically gifted. My lack of grace was a running joke in my family. Reading was my pleasure and the idea of working physically hard and, heaven forbid, actually sweating were abhorrent to me.

In other words, I hated exercise. Oh, my parents poked, goaded, and prodded me to get off the sofa and move, but I resented the heck out of it.

As a teenager and young adult, I only worked out long enough to meet my weight-loss goal. As soon as the scale hit my target weight, I went right back to my more slothful habits—only to regain the weight I had just lost—and usually then some.

It wasn’t until I started shifting my thoughts that I began to be able to exercise more consistently. First, I made peace with the need to exercise to maintain my health and feel physically well. Slowly and surely—with mental practice—I began to look forward to it, and eventually to actually enjoy it.

Now, my day is off big time if I don’t get my workout in. All truly is not right with the world! I enjoy moving my body and working out—and I love how good it makes me feel. And I love to sweat!

Building your mental muscles is a process, just as building your physical muscles is a process.

You first figure out your goal and create a plan to get there. There are lots of mental exercises to choose from, such as centering exercises, meditations, making lists of things you appreciate, visualizing, affirmations, journaling, and consciously shifting your thoughts on specific topics.

Just as you decide if you want to run, life weights, or do yoga, you pick what feels right to you—and what you will actually do consistently. And then decide how often and for how long. Just as with physical exercise, start off easy and build up.

With practice, you’ll begin to notice that you don’t instantly get angry when someone cuts you off in traffic, and even better, you’ll find yourself pushing yourself in your workout because it feels good and you want to.

What can you do today to exercise your mental muscles? How can you make that a consistent practice that you are just as committed to as your physical workout? What difference does that make to achieving your wellness goals?

Together we can do it!

Photo from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

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Wellness Tip of the Day

Aside

Wellness Tip of the Day: Plan to work your mental muscles just as you plan to exercise your physical ones. Meditate, visualize, appreciate, think in a new way. 

How Strong are Your Mental Muscles?

What if every moment of every day you have the choice to focus on what you don’t want or what you do want? That creating the life of your dreams is just a matter of deciding what you want, knowing that it is absolutely and completely yours, and staying in that confident place regardless of what other people say, or the circumstances that are unfolding?

The process is simple but far from easy, particularly since it seems like outside people, places, situations, and things are definitely impacting you. And everyone around you thinks they are at the mercy of these outside influences, and often remind you that you are, too.

It can be challenging to go against the typical mental-flow. As you read these words, it may feel right that you are more in control of your life than you can possibly imagine, but as soon as you are in your car and hit traffic, or someone complains to you, or you feel overwhelmed, you’re right back in that mode of life having control over you.

When people begin working to shift their focus to what they do want, they often think the shift should happen effortlessly. They are surprised that it feels like work.

But think about it. If you spend the majority of your time sitting passively in front of a computer or TV and are not doing any exercise, how likely is it that you will just be able to get up one day and go out and run 10 miles? In that case, you would expect that you need to train.

First, you would decide that you want to run 10 miles. Then you might plan how you are going to do it by setting up a running and workout schedule. Then you would commit to following the schedule and doing the workout every day. If you missed a workout, you wouldn’t beat yourself up. You would just get up the next day and do the planned workout. As you practice running you would start to see changes—you can run further, your lung capacity expands, and muscles develop in your legs. Do that consistently over a period of time, and you will master running 10 miles.

Why should it be any different to build your mental muscles?

You have to decide that you are willing to do the work to gain the mental strength to focus on what you want—no matter what—because you want to love your life. You want to plan how you are going to achieve that goal. Are you going to meditate every day? Keep an appreciation journal? Work with a coach? Then you will want to commit to following your plan. Slowly but surely, you practice shifting your thoughts and feelings. You gain new insights into how the world works, and let go of limiting beliefs and patterns that have been holding you back. Over time, you notice that you can make the mental shifts faster, your consciousness expands, and you are mentally stronger. Do that consistently and you will master your focus and thoughts, and will fall in love with life.

To get to the place where joy is totally within your control, all you have to do is decide, plan, commit, and practice consistently. If you do that, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

What can you do today to strengthen your mental muscles to create the life of your dreams?

Together we can do it!

Photo by http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/