Have you ever tried or wanted to try something that seemed almost impossible to you? One of the biggest things you have to overcome right from the start is your negative thinking. “Oh, that’s impossible,” your negative thoughts tell you. And if you are lucky enough to convince yourself to even get started, then you have set yourself up for a battle for the long haul on this “seemingly impossible” feat. This was my experience when I first started thinking about doing a complete marathon this year.
From the get-go, the distance to run was mind-numbing to me, but to make things worse, this was something I had tried twice before—and failed—once due to a herniated disc, and another time due to a broken ankle. I had decided that I would try it this time, and if I got injured again, I would never try again.
I Had a Fear
My biggest fear from the start was not about whether or not I could complete the 26.2 miles, but whether I would injure myself after weeks or months of training, and not be able to even TRY to complete the 26.2 miles.
I was doing ok in the beginning, reminding myself that my two previous injuries were due to poor training methods—or rather, lack thereof. But then, my mileage started to get into the upper teens, and the doubt started to pour in again. I had never ran beyond 14 miles, so by the time I got to 17, 18 and 19 miles, my nerves were getting the best of me every time I had a little twinge in my foot or my leg, or wherever (because trust me, if you run that many miles and you will experience twinges).
Enter the Five Powerful Words.
Wendy asked on a LinkedIn group if there was anyone who would like to review her book before it got published. I had read many of Wendy’s articles on her website, and so, I jumped at the chance. In her book, Wendy tells us about the five powerful words. These words are, “I like the idea that . . . “ There are some things we want to do or have thought about doing, but we cannot even begin to think positively about it because we don’t even believe that it is possible. Wendy tells us, essentially, to back up for a minute. If you can’t even believe it, then you need to start where you are. For instance, if a person wants to pay off their house in ten years, but it seems impossible to them, in order to stop thinking negatively about it and start thinking positively about it, you back up to what you can believe to be true—i.e. that “I like the idea that I can pay off my house in ten years.”
This made sense to me, so I started using the five powerful words. In Chapter 8, Staying Calm in an Uncertain World, Wendy writes about worry. And to be honest, I was worried. I was worried that I would break my foot, or maybe I’d be able to finish the marathon, but end up injured afterwards. Chapter 8 helped me to get specific with my worries. Wendy provided several examples of worries and how they could be counteracted with examples of a new thought to replace the old . . . each beginning with the five powerful words.
Apply the Five Powerful Words to Your Worries
When I read this, a light went off. I had been using the five powerful words to tell myself that I liked the idea that I would complete the marathon, but I had never gotten specific about it. These examples showed me that we can take these five words and apply them to anything we want, not just that we are able to do something, but that we can choose HOW the outcome is played out.
Three Good Things Happened
I am not saying that I didn’t get injured because I told myself that I liked the idea that I would run the marathon and be injury free. What I am saying is that by using these words, these three things happened for me:
- I was able to escape the stress and anxiety that my worries about injury were causing me. Running a marathon was a goal of mine. I was excited to be doing it and proud of myself for getting as far as I had gotten. And I was already having fun with it, but that fun I was having was not in its fullness because there was still a large part of me that was worried!!
- I also believe that when we are worried about something, that we are more likely to bring that thing upon us, and so by letting go of that worry through those five powerful words, I believe I reduced my likelihood that I would get injured.
- Winifred Gallagher wrote in Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life that “temperamentally anxious people can have a hard time staying motivated, period, because their intense focus on their worries distracts them from their goals.” I totally believe this to be true, and experienced it in my transition from worrying about injury and anything else that could possibly happen to keep me from finishing the marathon to stopping my worries with the five powerful words. Once I stopped my worries about injury, I was able to focus more on my run, and enjoy it!
Bethany Jo Lee is a health and fitness enthusiast, in training for her Personal Trainers Certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She believes that health and fitness are foundational for personal development, and writes on these topics at http://projectwhitespace.com. You can also find her on Twitter @bethanyjolee.
What happens when YOUR thoughts or worries get in the way of your goals? What do you do? Post your comment below!