If you had asked me five years ago I would have told you that I was so afraid of heights that I couldn’t even stand calmly riding up a department store elevator, and I live in Scotland, how high really are our department stores? But I felt the serious jitters as I fought hard to stop my body from shaking. My palms continued to sweat as my mind raced a thousand miles an hour into an imaginary wall as I kept thinking “are we there yet!?” Ask me now and I can tell you that I have been rock climbing for four years now, and for those who know the lingo I climb a grade 6c-7a. For those who’re not climbers let’s just say I’m nearing breaking past that intermediate group. So what changed? In simple terms, my mentality. In complex terms, my mentality.
If you ever tried to set yourself a goal, you will know how hard it is to complete it, I think a lot of that is to do with, 1) you and 2) a lot of external negatively influencing factors. Let me explain.
Have you ever come out of a supermarket thinking you saved money because you bought something like a two for one offer, unless you went into the supermarket needing to buy two of those items in the first place, I have to inform you, you just lost money. Every company out there is a casino, they’re not built for you but to purely take your money using their house rules.
I went into a supermarket to, shockingly, buy some groceries. One of the items I was looking for was a bag of frozen veg. A bag of frozen veg cost me £1.25 a bag. There was an offer that day which said that if I bought four it would cost £4.80. So in order for me to save 20p, I have to spend an extra £3.55. Not to mention I have to find a place to put those extra 3 bags of frozen veg in my knee high small freezer unit already full of stuff I don’t eat unless I’m far too lazy to go out and buy food and I’ve eaten everything else in the fridge. So 4 bags of veg could probably last me several months, and I’m being generous in even calling it months! Let me also put this in perspective to the value of things around me. 20p can buy me 1/3 a bar of chocolate; 1/5 a litre of petrol which means I’ll probably be able to drive one to two miles along the road; 1/15 a cup of filter coffee from a coffee shop; 1/17 a slice of cake from a cafe; 1/7 of a single use bus ticket and 1/28 of a train ticket should I decide to go into the city without my car seeing 20p can only drive me two miles and it’s 26 miles to the city! I think you get the point.
You may counter with the point that, “but you will eventually eat the bags of veg anyway.” Well yes I can concede that but, keep in mind I gave an example of what I was going to buy anyway regardless of an offer. Also, it will cost me more than 20p to store the extra 3 bags of veg in my freezer for several months.
So the supermarket purchase is one obvious external negatively influencing factor.
Since I’ve covered number 2 on the list, I need to now give you an example of number 1, you. Have you ever set yourself a goal and simultaneously think, it’s not going to work but I’m gonna try anyway. This is by far my favourite line of all excuses that I hear and be the most destructive thing a person can do to themselves. Even before you’ve started on you’re journey towards this goal you’ve just personally made it a million times harder for yourself to do. If you do succeed then I congratulate you, but it must have been an unsavoury and punishingly gruelling journey that you have reluctantly pushed yourself to. If you don’t succeed, that’s where it become detrimental as you’ve just reinforced the negativity already in you’re mind, that it won’t work and that you will fail. Therefore concluding to yourself that it’s best to just go back to old ways and bad habits cause it’s a losing battle anyway. When I hear this vicious cycle from others again and again it jusy makes me want to scream! This is why to me New Year resolutions are a waste of time. Unless you are mentally ready to fully commit to achieving a goal, there is an unproportionally higher probability that you will fail, thus you just set yourself up for failure. To me this is also illogical, why did you just punish yourself like that?
I’ve always maintained that if it’s easy it’s both not worth fighting for and we’d be there already! With that in mind, stop being so lazy! I mean that mentally and not physically. Though the latter applies to many also. Yes it’s hard to do research, sift through and separate helpful to seriously unhelpful advice, tips and information on the internet. After all, no company exists for you remember, so it’s not in its best interest to help you at all! For those who have joined dieting clubs this maybe a point to ponder on. I’m not saying they don’t work, merely asking, is it the right option for you? Yes it’s going to be hard to rearrange you’re life and start to think differently in order to achieve your goal, but if you really wanted it, and I mean really wanted it, nothing would stop you. And stop thinking you’re gonna to get results instantly, this is a marathon not a sprint! Which leads me back to the external negative factor of marketing, like the supermarket example. Along with TV, film and media, marketers, using especially advertising, are extremely good at creating an unrealistic and polarised world for the consumer that it sets a person up to want their product. Give me an example I hear you say, OK!
How many of you have reached for an energy sports drink to give you that extra boost while exercising? That it will also help you beat dehydration? If I tell you that energy sports drinks, unless you are a professional athlete doing hours of exercising, that drink really doesn’t enhance your performance whatsoever. There are scientific papers written about this. If you say to me you were using the drink to replenish lost minerals from vigorous exercise then that’s different.
As for beating dehydration, this idea is a complete marketing ploy, like Debeers diamonds changing people’s thought process to that of “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Dehydration is your body’s natural reaction telling you that it’s time to drink water; that your body needs to be replenished. Not, I don’t want to get the disease called dehydration so I have yo dribk more now in order not to feel dehydrated later. This thought process is completely backwards and is actually against human nature. You will also find that no one participating in a sports event has died from dehydration. As I’m not an expert in this field, here’s a Guardian article to better support my point: Dangerous exercise: the hype of dehydration and heat stroke
So if you want to succeed in something you need to start thinking for yourself and do some major hard work mentally. After all your changing your thought process, the same processes which you have been using for years if not decades already! Sure you will make errors, I know I’ve made many and will most likely continuing making them as I continur to learn through life. But you will find your way if you let yourself believe it. So as part of thinking for yourself, you need to not only understand weakness (negatively influencing factors) surrounding you but also recognise the weaknesses within yourself. Perhaps the latter being more important as I can assure you, marketers, companies and lobbyists know exactly how to manipulate you. Trust me, I studied marketing…. Once you have recognised weaknesses are you then better equipped to battle it.
Remember, there will always be saboteurs in life. Some are genuinely not wanting you to succeed but more often than not people don’t mean to be. They just don’t want to understand or share your goal. This is where you need to put down that mental foot! Your strength will be your determination aka willpower, but be careful you don’t expend this positive energy all in the first few days, pace yourself. This is a marathon not a sprint remember. Start, follow through and keep repeating these new habits, which will eventually shed the ‘new’ and just become habits. Congratulations, this will also be the point where you have mentally changed. To have become stronger. To how you think and react. To what you choose and even how you will view the world.
So what changed for me and my fear of heights? I kept rock climbing because I had got to the point where my fear was starting to affect the way I lived life. It was making me fearful of trying new things and I was at a point in life where I was fed up of just feeling, well, yuck. So I decided to stop feeling that way and do something about it. It took me a year and a half to get over my fear, mostly because I wouldn’t go rock climbing regularly. Had I done so I’m sure I would have completed this goal of getting rid of my extreme fear of heights faster, but realistically since I was scared of heights that wasn’t going to happen. Vicious circle. Now I rock climb regularly, love hiking the big mountains and is off flying planes. So now I most certainly view the world very differently and from all angles!
People aren’t born brave, like everything else, it’s learnt.