Positive Self-Talk

What We Say To Ourselves Matters

Are you constantly thinking, “I should be doing X” or “Why can’t I ever do Y?” If so, you are not alone. And there is hope! The way to make progress lies in focusing carefullyusing positive self-talk, and resetting your expectations.

Focus Carefully

For anyone who is constantly fixated on that little number on a scale, remind yourself of one very simple truth. Ready? YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN YOUR BODY MASS. Print it in triplicate in 72-point font and hang it up everywhere you need a reminder. Scales don’t know your BMI, cannot ascertain how much muscle you have, and know zero about all of your outstanding personal qualities. The scale only tells you ONE tiny bit of information, and yet so many of us obsess over that number. If you rely on the scale reading every single morning, ask yourself why.

Whenever you have a medical appointment and your doctor insists on weighing you, explain that you are trying to have a healthier relationship with your body and want to break the scale habit. Face the opposite direction and ask the doctor not to tell you the number. And if your doctor cannot respect that, find one who will. The media tries to get us to obsess about our exterior looks, but what about the rest of us? If you have great bloodwork, healthy blood pressure, and a consistent movement routine, then celebrate that. Forget about the scale for now!






Use Positive Self-talk

Focus on the positives rather than “shoulding all over yourself” or saying “I wish I could.” Such messages hurt us and shut us down, rather than inspire and help. Find a few affirmations to repeat daily such as “Every day in every way I am getting stronger and healthier,” or, “I love my body and my problems and wouldn’t trade with anyone,” or, “My current experience is teaching me about life.” The words we use are very powerful.

Early in the process of recovering from my broken wrist, I babied my arm because I wanted to be certain I didn’t need surgery. When my doctor agreed I was stable enough that I wouldn’t need surgery, but I was “way behind,” I bought into his message and started aggressively doing whatever I could to regain full range of motion.

Unfortunately, the cast was improperly set, resulting in thumb problems. When I was misdiagnosed with trigger thumb, I got stuck in a rut repeating negative messages, practically convincing myself I was going to need surgery after all. As soon as I started to use “I got this,” “I am strong,” “I am healthy,” and just this week, “I am a hiker,” things turned around. I got my confidence back.

Whether you think you can or cannot, you are absolutely right

YOU can turn yourself around. Every healthy bite, every step forward, every affirmation, every repetition helps you build your positive track record. The next time you catch yourself thinking “I can’t” or “I wish I could change X about myself,” grab a piece of paper and write down ten — yes, TEN — things that are going well or that you like about yourself or your life. If it helps, share how you feel afterward in the comments.

Reset Expectations

Can we do a multi-day backpack a month after recovering from foot issues? Is it realistic to climb a mountain several months after surgery? How long does it take for a wrist to heal enough to tolerate pullups? And if none of those goals come true, what then?

We often set exceedingly high expectations for ourselves without knowing whether it is actually possible. Humans have the unique ability to hope. However, sometimes we have to amend or adjust our expectations. And that is hard.

Every Step Counts

Joy One-armed

I mistakenly thought I would be in the clear once I got my cast off. I never expected complications (we never do — fortunately I have a pretty decent track record as far as bones go.) When I realized I had underestimated how long it would take to return to full performance, it felt like a wallop across my cheek.

Several wise mentors reminded me of the positive steps I WAS taking, each and every day. We can’t compare to our previous personal bests (or that of others), but only to our recent selves. I may not be what I call “Rainier Ready” right now but that’s okay. How far can I move my thumb? Can I hold a tight fist for thirty seconds rather than ten? Will icing twice make the swelling go down even more? Today I fastened a hoodie zipper that had eluded me for nine weeks. Baby steps, but progress nonetheless.

With Positive Self-talk, Embrace Your Progress

We don’t get any do-overs in life. We each face unique obstacles. How are you going to handle them? You are the hero or heroine of your own story. Can you step outside yourself and picture your favorite character handling your problems? Maybe that will give you new insights to try.

So, as long as you are taking positive steps forward each day, even if it is a five-minute action, celebrate. If you are doing more than you have in your workouts and feeling the results, pat yourself on the back. My wish for you is that you find a way to enjoy the process and embrace your progress, not just live for the end goal. This is a delicate topic but one we are all experiencing. Share your wisdom in the comments section so we can all learn from each other. And remember, you are not alone!