How many times have you started down the path of better health and fitness, only to be knocked off course by temptations? If nothing comes to mind, let me play out a scenario for you to see if it rings a bell…
You’re invited to a party or a night out with friends. With all intentions of making “good” decisions to stay on your path to better health and fitness, you accept the invitation. Only, once you’ve arrived at the gathering, you’re confronted with your favorite snack/dessert/alcoholic beverage/enter other indulgence and end up succumbing to the temptation laid in front of you.
This story happens every day to well-intentioned people. And while you may be able to recollect a similar situation yourself at this point, you may not realize exactly what caused you to give into temptation in the first place. Luckily, it can be as simple as creating an uplifting mantra to help you overcome temptation at your next party.
However, before we get to that, let’s first take a closer look at what caused you to give in to temptation in the first place. This part is going to require some SERIOUS reflection. So be patient as you enjoy the ride.
What Causes You to Give into Temptation
If I asked you the reason why you ate that big piece of cake or drank those 5 beers or indulged in that bowl of brownies and ice cream (my own personal vice), you may blame your willpower…or lack thereof. And you’d be partly right.
Willpower, of course, does a play a big part in us being able to say “NO!” to the things that tempt us. But there’s another layer of “you” underneath your willpower that is holding you back from becoming the type of person that CAN say “NO!” to 5 beers or a piece of chocolate cake…and that’s your self-image.
Your self-image is simply who you believe you are and what you believe you’re able to accomplish. Your self-image is mostly created and made up of your attitudes about things and experiences, and the habits you have (or don’t have).
To help you understand this idea of self-image a little better, let’s dig deep to see if you can unlock a few limiting beliefs that are holding you back from becoming the best version of yourself possible.
What You Say to Yourself When You’re by Yourself Matters
One way we build a self-image is through the thoughts that we have and the things we say to ourselves about our actions. As you can imagine, if you tend to have more negative thoughts and react negatively toward events, you’ll be hard pressed to make any type of progress in that given area.
For instance, if we go back to our party example above, there were definitely some underlying thoughts that went into play when giving into the temptation. Maybe you thought something like “I don’t have the willpower to say no to cake.” or “I never pass up a few beers, so why should I now?” or “I’m not the type of person who can overcome temptation.”.
Thoughts like these, which are disempowering and usually keep you in a state of unchange, are called limiting beliefs. We ALL have limiting beliefs in some form or fashion. However, what you may not realize is, those limiting beliefs are creating your self-image. In other words, they are causing you to become the “type of person that can’t overcome temptation”. This self-image development caps your upper limits, only allowing you to accomplish a small portion of what you’re actually capable of doing.
Why Limiting Beliefs Hurt Your Progress
The reason your limiting beliefs are capping your upper limits is because your ability to perform or accomplish a task is LIMITED by your self-image. In other words, if your self-image of health and fitness is guided by beliefs that you don’t have willpower and can’t overcome temptations, then you’ll never be able to push past these limitations and achieve your goals.
This is why it’s important to understand that NOTHING is going to change until you change YOURSELF first (I told you this section was going to require a lot of serious reflection).
That’s right. You have to resolve to change yourself before you can expect to reach your goal. Because part of accomplishing a goal is becoming the type of person that can achieve that goal, and other goals like it.
I know this a lot to take in, so I’ll give you some time to think…………….
Okay, so back to the lesson!
Understand, I am NOT telling you that you’re a bad person (actually, I may not know you at all, which makes it impossible for me to know if you’re a bad person anyway). I’m simply pointing out that your CURRENT self, and most notably your beliefs about who you are, cannot accomplish your health and fitness goals, otherwise you would’ve done it already. Luckily, we have control over what we think about ourselves…
Building a Strong Self-Image Through Mantras
As I mentioned at the beginning of our conversation, changing your self-image can be as simple as creating an uplifting mantra. The purpose of a mantra is to start to create an inner-dialogue that changes your thinking about what’s possible.
Now, if you’re thinking that this sounds like a Jedi mind trick, I have to admit that YOU’RE RIGHT! It is a Jedi mind trick. But, again, if you had a better way of accomplishing this goal, you would have done it already! So we might as well trick your mind into believing that you are the type of person who can achieve health and fitness mastery.
Repeating an uplifting mantra works through a process that Lanny Bassham, in his book With Winning in Mind, calls the Principle of Reinforcement. Essentially, this principle states that you are what you continuously think, write, and do. Going back to our party example again, if you THINK you can’t say NO! to a piece of cake, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do so when the time comes.
Conversely, if you THINK you’re the type of person who has willpower and can overcome temptation, your chances of doing so increase SIGNIFICANTLY when confronted with temptation. This new thought process, then, will help REINFORCE your new self-image.
Enter your uplifting mantra to help you build this belief in yourself.
How to Create a Mantra That Supports Your Goals
The process of creating a mantra is pretty simple…
First, start with the words “I’m the type of person that…”.
Second, think of a trait that you would like to embody that you believe will help you move toward your goals. Usually this is the trait that you feel like you’re currently lacking when trying to overcome temptation. For instance, if you think you’re lacking willpower to say “NO!” at parties, then willpower will be the trait you pick in this step.
Finally, you’ll finish your mantra with what outcome you want to achieve by embodying this new trait. For instance, if you’re wanting to embody willpower more while you’re at parties, the outcome you may want is to overcome temptations.
So, the mantra from this series of examples would go something like this…
“I’m the type of person that has the willpower to say “NO!” to temptations.”
Your goal should be to repeat this mantra in your head (or out loud if you feel so inclined) at least 5 times BEFORE you know you will be met with temptation. This way it reinforces your new self-image (are you seeing a common theme here?), thereby increasing your chances of overcoming temptation when you’re confronted with it.
Sometimes it does take a good Jedi mind trick to convince yourself that you can accomplish more than you currently THINK you’re capable of achieving. If that’s the case, then so be it. After all, if your progress in your health and fitness, and life for that matter, depends on having a stronger self-image, a few tricks here and there will be worth their weight in gold.