Well it’s the 2nd week of January and allegedly the week when most people give up their new years resolutions; I have witnessed real evidence of that: on Monday I did a radio day with Anna Richardson from Channel 4’s Secret Eaters, and we were chatting about a recent study by Special K that looked at women’s mind-set when they begin a “diet”; it showed that 34% of women surveyed start a diet believing they are going to fail. In fact we interviewed one lady at 11.30 and she said her diet had failed as she had just had a cream bun, we asked her when she started her diet and she said 9 O’clock that morning, so she hadn’t even lasted 2 ½ hours! The reality is that we will only ever achieve what we think we can achieve. As Henry Ford famously said “If you think you can you can….. and if you think you can’t…. you can’t”. How many times have you thought “I know I am going to mess this test/interview/event up” and then done exactly that. This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and you learn that your negative thought was right – after all you proved it to be so! So that means the next time you have that thought – it’s even more powerful.
It all comes down to self-talk; it’s the way that you speak to yourself that influences everything you do. We all have it – that on-going internal commentary; even as you are reading this you may be adding your own commentary like “that sounds just like me” or “I do exactly that” so you can process 2 dialogues at one time, one what you are actually hearing and the other your internal response to it. You get so used to your internal dialogue that you just let it play whatever it wants without being aware of how much it influences you. Ask any golfer how important it is to focus on the shot, to see yourself hitting the ball perfectly and telling yourself that it is going to land exactly where you want it to. If that same golfer just hits and hopes with the thought “bet this ball swings to the right” guess what his unconscious mind responds to? As far as it is concerned it has been told to swing the ball to the right, so it does.
For someone to fail at their new diet (or anything else for that matter) two hours after starting, that’s simply doing what they have been told to do – by themselves! It’s their unconscious mind responding to the thought “bet I can’t keep this up” with actions and behaviours that support that statement.
As children we respond to praise and acknowledgement of even the smallest achievement. When you took your first step or two, the chances are your parents clapped and cheered and you felt great; they probably didn’t say “two steps – is that IT? is that honestly the best you can do? Johnny next door can do 5 steps!” think how much slower your progress would have been with that kind of response. As adults we can’t reply on parents for this on-going praise, so it has to come from someone else. That someone is YOU.
If you haven’t ever read it – get Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Much of the structure of my own weight loss book Think More Eat Less is based on some of the key “Success Principles” he teaches, all of which are about changing your attitude in order to change your behaviour. In fact he coined the phrase Positive Mental Attitude or PMA. And it wasn’t Frank Spencer who first said “Every day in every way I am getting better and better” it was Émile Coué a French Psychologist in the 1920’s, who found that getting his patients to recite this simple phrase several times per day every day, had a dramatic effect on their overall behaviour and self-esteem, even if they didn’t believe it when they first started saying it. This has since become known as auto suggestion, or self-hypnosis.
When you have a clear goal whether it’s to make money or to lose weight, you will ONLY succeed when you take control of your internal voice and send the right message to your unconscious mind which it will then respond to. Tell it what you want to achieve and that you can achieve it, and repeat it every day, even if at first you don’t believe it, say it anyway for at least 30 days. This simple technique of changing how you speak to yourself is THE single most important and beneficial process when it comes to achieving something, as it generates the behaviours that make it happen. If you did a survey of the “luckiest” most successful people in the world and asked them how they speak to themselves, you would hear a theme of positivity, praise and encouragement, which results in behaviours that bring them the success they are so “lucky” to have achieved.
The moral of this story? Be careful what you say YOU are listening!