By Colm O’Reilly
Owner, CrossFit Ireland; Certified Two-Brain Business Mentor; Founder, TheMentalHealthPlan.com
One reason why people shy away from mindset training is the uncertainty about what they’re getting into. As humans we all need a degree of certainty. Funnily enough, we also need a degree of uncertainty, but we call this excitement or adventure.
To help overcome this uncertainty, and any resistance or anxiety that may come with it, is by laying out both how the practice will feel and what benefits you can expect from dedicated mindset training.
At first, it’s going to feel quite strange and unfamiliar to sit and do nothing but watch your thoughts. We’re all so used to doing all the time, it can be quite the novel shift to being. It’s important to explain here that the point isn’t to shut off thoughts, but rather sit back and watch the play out (instead of arguing with them in your head!)
Secondly we always teach the importance of acknowledging the good deed we’ve done for ourselves at the end of each practice. This is like the fist bump at the end of your first workout or the smiley face in your food diary after your first “good” breakfast (https://twobraincoaching.com/why-i-dropped-macros-for-happy-face-nutrition-coaching/). Rewarding our behaviour helps us to keep doing it long enough to see real, lasting benefits.
As your practice compounds you’ll find yourself naturally able to respond rather than react, so you’ll make better life choices and feel less anxious/conflicted when stressors arrive. Basically, you’re more optimistic throughout the day, you have better work habits and interactions, and you’re more satisfied with your day when it’s done
After we’ve developed the cornerstone habit of taking time for your mind each day, we expand the practice out into two more critical areas: kindness and forgiveness. There’s more detail but for this article we’ll keep it at these two.
Kindness is like the fuel to our motivation and our happiness. The more we develop a spirit of kindness towards ourselves and others, the less friction we have in our conversations, and the more pleased we are with ourselves. Acts of kindness boost our happiness more than ‘selfish’ actions.
Forgiveness is like taking the handbrake off our emotional engine. The more we’re able to let go of frustrations, guilt, mistakes and injustices done to us the more mental energy we have to focus on what moves our life in a positive direction. Resentment is corrosive to our health, and forgiveness is a practice we do for ourselves to let go of sadness, anger or hate that’s only hurting us.
It’s important to point out that mindset work, like any other meaningful work, isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There’s going to be days in your fitness training where you don’t move well or the weights/times go backwards. There’s going to be days and weeks where what you eat isn’t in line with your goals, or times when you feel the plan you’re on feels jarring with your lifestyle. In a similar way as we become more aware of our habitual thoughts and feelings, it can be uncomfortable knowing you’ve a less than perfect mind state. This struggle is no different than sweating and straining during a workout. Practicing kindness towards yourself and having a good coach to help you will ensure that you stick with it and enjoy all the rewards of taking care of your mind.