The gymnast steps onto the floor to salute the judge to indicate being ready to show their routine. The judge makes eye contact and raises his own hand to signify that the panel is ready to watch. A crowd of over 1000 people anxiously watch too. In the crowd, the gymnast’s Mom, and she is on pins and needles. But in the mind of the gymnast there is confidence. Knowing they are prepared. The work has been done, the sweating through practices, having lived through the pain of too many sit ups, and having outlasted many tears of frustration when progress wasn’t happening fast enough. The work has been done and the world is ready to see a routine that will make them all applaud. A routine so good that other parents in the audience, not there to watch this gymnast, but to watch their own child, will look to each other and actually say “wow.” The gymnast gives a return salute and the routine begins. This is their time.
Not only did the gymnast in the story above do the “work”, they trained their mind to give them a firm stance in a place of confidence. They figured out how to dictate the outcomes rather than having outside sources determine any results. But how? How did they do that?
We know that if you tell a lie long enough that it becomes your truth. Not that our confident gymnast was lying to themselves; much the opposite. Human beings relate to the world by telling stories. We tell stories to comprehend things, to remember facts, to celebrate success, and to help ease pain. Unfortunately, we often tell ourselves lies. Lies like, “I am not prepared”, “I’m not ready for this”, or “I am not good enough.” Many times these are lies, and if we repeat them long enough…..
So, how can we beat this false world where we are never good enough?
This is easy; we tell ourselves different stories. Not lies. Stories. When we can reframe our reality, we learn to shape it, to make us the heroes of our own lifetime. We can do that.
It starts by creating a statement that empowers us. Something simple and short, to the point, and direct. This is called an affirmation. Now don’t stop reading because I threw a hippie word at you. Affirmations have been used by everyday people since the beginning of time. Athletes, business moguls, and forwarded minded coaches have come to the practice of using affirmations more recently, but it doesn’t take long to see the effect of changing one’s own paradigm.
I used to say “I am Strong and Clean*” before routines when I was a gymnast, but I also said it in my mind just about every time I went to practice. When I started utilizing this process I went from being an average gymnast to being a national qualifier. I know it works.
Develop your own affirmation or statement: make it specific to counteract the lie you have been told to be your truth. Make it personal, something that has a noticeable value when you hear it out-loud.
I am smart and capable of anything I want to do.
I will be the top score for my event.
I am brave and will overcome anything in my way.
I stand tall and other people see me as a good leader.
These types of statements, when repeated regularly will allow you to reshape your story, empowering you to be successful. A good practice is to set your watch or phone to sound off every hour to remind you to repeat your statement 3 times, either aloud or in your head. Do this until it becomes a habit.
Combine this with an action step. Possibly reading articles about other people who have endured, or leadership books. Align your story with others who have proven it can be done. If your affirmation is about losing weight, for example, set small goals to spend hours in the gym each week, or each month. If your affirmation is to score well at a meet, set small attainable goals to reinforce the story that you are successful and competent. “I will hit 3 beam routines each night of practice this week”. “I will practice my choreography 5 times this weekend”. “I will learn 3 new skills this summer” and so on.
Overtime you will see a change in your demeanor and your level of confidence, I guarantee it.
This next paragraph is only for the true Gymfinity fan, if that’s not you, you may stop reading.
Still here? Great. Here is your homework, for the next 3 days, set your phone or alarm as described in the paragraph above. When the alarm goes off, repeat the following phase 3 times.
“I am having a great day and I am so happy.”
After each time you respond, stand up (unless you are already standing) and take a deep breath. The kind of breath that fill the lungs to capacity, then let it all out and return to your current tasks.
3 days. C’mon you can try it for that long. If you do not feel happier, more satisfied, or in the least, feel a little less anxiety, then maybe I am wrong, and you should never listen to me again. But if it changes your day, makes you feel just a little bit better, then develop your own statement(s) and keep the alarm settings until you have established a new habit. A new habit that makes your life more enjoyable, less stressful, and makes you more confident. That is how the gymnast in the example did it. I know, because that gymnast was me.
*” Clean” refers to the performance for skills, not hygiene. Though I was also clean that way too, thank you very much.