Your body and mind work together like a well-oiled machine to keep you safe when faced with life’s challenges. Whether it’s sharpening your focus or using adrenaline to give you the strength you don’t normally have, the mind will protect you at all costs to ensure your survival. If utilized correctly, your mind can take you to places you never could have imagined. There’s a reason behind the Navy SEAL 40 percent rule: When your body feels as if you can’t give anymore, you’ve still got
60 percent left in the tank.
If used incorrectly, the powers of your mind will become your worst nightmare. Your brain will build invisible barriers that you will start to believe. Those barriers are built with help from a small voice in the back of your mind that never seems to shut up when something is on the line. It feeds off negative emotions and manifests a permanent mark on your memory when you find yourself in a similar situation that you once failed.
When you’re about to take a math exam and you need a 75 to pass the class, it’s the voice reminding you about the test you failed just two weeks ago. You’re not good at math, it’s too much pressure. There’s no way you’ll pull off the grade you want.
When you walk up to the podium for that big speech you’ve rehearsed over 100 times, it’s the voice that makes you forget the first line you thought was ingrained in your brain. Look at all those people out there. Imagine what they would think of you if you couldn’t even make it through your opening sentence without stumbling.
When you’re up to bat in the last inning with bases loaded, two outs, and down one run, it’s the same voice giving you every reason why you can’t lead your team to victory. These guys have owned you all day. You’re the worst hitter on this team, you’ll be lucky if you touch anything.
Instead of facing your fears head-on, this voice won’t let you risk the embarrassment. It might be a cool feeling if you succeed, but just imagine how painful it would be to fail. Who cares how much you’ve worked on your swing in the past month. Now it actually matters, and you haven’t found the barrel in your last eight at-bats. What makes you think that’ll change when it actually matters?
If you can’t tell, this voice is probably the reason why you get so worked up over something you’ve practiced a million times. It’s the reason why you freeze up in the box in the last inning and choke away your last at-bat because you were too worried about failing. It’s the reason why your mental picture of your math study guide all of a sudden went blank during your test. With each failure, the voice grows stronger and stronger until it’s the only thing on your mind when it comes to crunch time. It’s a vicious cycle that will send you back to the drawing boards searching for answers - unless you take action and put an end to the lies it makes you believe.
This is where self-talk comes into play. When you listen to yourself, you hear the fears, doubts, and reasons why you can’t get the job done. When you talk to yourself, you can feed your mind positive thoughts, encouragement, and reasons why you CAN get the job done. Your thoughts are your body’s natural defense mechanism to get you to avoid situations you might fail. Self-talk is how you remind yourself that you’re more powerful than you could ever imagine.
If you’re feeling a little nervous before your big biology exam, starve your negative thoughts with positive self-talk. You’ve prepared as much as you could. You’re ready to go, you got this! Before you take the mic and prepare to address your fellow classmates, remind yourself how you’re going to crush it. You’re a great speaker. How exciting is it to finally share with your friends and family how much you’ve worked to master these next 10 minutes. You’re on the mound with two outs, bases loaded, and the other team’s best hitter ready to erase their one-run deficit? Yeah, wish him luck. You’re the man. There’s nobody better for this situation. He’ll be lucky if he touches one of these next three pitches.
In life, we are always going to face challenges that test our faith, will, and determination. We’re going to make mistakes and fall on our face when the spotlight is beaming on us. Striking out with the game-winning run on third doesn’t make you a failure, it just makes you human. With the right mindset, a work ethic that doesn’t hear the word can’t, and some positive self-encouragement at the right moments, you will overcome these obstacles and use them to propel your game to the next level.
Our mind fears discomfort. It doesn’t like moments where we’re most vulnerable. It’s a curse that impacts everyone who walks this earth, but the great ones learned how to conquer this by feeding their mind what it needed. When the lights turn on and it’s time to play, you don’t need more reasons why you can’t be the guy. You need the assurance from yourself that you can.
Don’t let you give up on yourself. Feed your mind positive words, encourage yourself when you’re down, and give yourself the confidence to rise up to any challenge that comes your way. If you’ve put in the work, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t believe you can get it done.
Don’t listen to yourself; talk to yourself. You are great, you were born for this, and you can do this.
This article was written by staff member Andrew Parks.