Conquer the inner dialogue

Conquering the inner dialogue is absolutely the most important aspect of endurance training. There’s often a constant struggle sometimes between your body and your mind that makes you want to give in and stop. However, in that moment if you train your mind to replace the ‘can’t-do’ thoughts with what you hoped to achieve at the onset of training and your goals, you can go on for much longer.

I’ve seen that most people in endurance sports start because of either of the two reasons: they have something to prove, mostly to their own-selves (the dropout rate is high when it involves proving something to others), or they have at one or more points in their life have felt victimized by a certain adversity/mishap and aim to regain control of their lives. Once you feel something on a very deep, personal level, you start trying to make every experience in your life match the extremity of what happened, or what you went through. Most people won’t understand what I wrote above, but those who know, really know. In my opinion, it all comes down to seeking control and power in your personal life.

Nietzsche was of the opinion that all men aren’t equal, as it is ultimately a game of power, with people having different levels of ambition and ‘will to power’. I’d like to suggest that while outwardly power and ambition might be a distinguishing factor, the control of the inner consciousness and self-awareness is what truly differentiates men. The more you tap into the inner power, the more empowered and driven you feel in the outside arena. It might seem preachy and idealistic to not let anyone or anything from the outside to affect your internal game, but the ability to bounce back after a certain influence is what matters. We are human and do not exist in isolation, so it is almost impossible to not let the world affect you, but how soon you gain control on your mind after, is the defining factor.

Having said that, I do believe that some of the endurance athletes I’m lucky to have in my life, are also the most loving and caring people I’ve ever come across. There is a certain charm that these people have because of their passion and their commitment to excellence that makes you feel alive in their company. They make it seem like life is a drug, that they’re always high on and breathe. These people have successfully undone their negative conditioning, know how to stop their thoughts from beating their morale down and can overcome life’s disasters with grit and valour.  These qualities demand utmost respect, and just witnessing them for real in my life, keeps me motivated.

Inner dialogue: I can’t. I’m tired. I didn’t sleep well. I was out late. I have a long day ahead. I am not made for this. I didn’t eat much. I’m sore from yesterday. What are the others thinking? Am I looking okay? Are my clothes the right fit? He/she shouldn’t have said or done that or he/she should’ve. I can’t do this. This isn’t for me.

Replaced with: I’m getting better. I’m going to focus on one step at a time. I can. I’m focused. I want to get better than yesterday. I will keep going. I will try. I will focus on me. My only competition is me. My focus is me and my performance. I’m committed to my vision. I have goals, and I’m going to for them.

Honestly, sometimes just saying the right thing, to yourself, at the right time, can change the course of your whole day. Try to control your inner dialogue, kill the outside noise, and you can conquer it all, I’ve learnt that from the best.

This is not only true for just endurance athlete or sports training, but also for life, in general. Most of the times without realizing we’re constantly telling ourselves how we aren’t good enough, inadequate or powerless. How we can’t do certain things or can’t achieve what someone else has achieved etc. Come to think of it, everybody starts at level zero, it’s your drive that takes you places, you gotta decide where you wish to exit life. If you try to proactively control the inner dialogue, you’ll be able to see yourself for who you truly are: loved, powerful, and absolute.

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The “How am I thinking?” Checklist.

The problem with thinking big and trying to challenge the world is the OPPOSITION. Most people give up on ideas and dreams because of how they expect to be opposed, challenged and rejected. Imagine, if everyone started giving up on ideas- there wouldn’t be any change or growth- we’d just do the same things every single day and ultimately die. Change is inevitable, it is important, and sometimes you need to be it! 

Ordinary and mediocrity is essential for a society too, to have great people stand out, but it is always your call to decide which group you want to be a part of. You see, resistance training helps you build muscle by cutting down fat, similarly use that opposition to make your mind and personality grow and cut down on the BS- the world’s got enough in circulation. You can choose your company, your partner, your goals and you are a sum of all those choices- so why not make better and bigger choices?

You DO NOT have to be the smartest or the most intelligent person, you just need to know what you don’t know and channel your thinking accordingly- thus avoiding the mistake of being ignorant and making conscious choices rather than accepting to be at the end-side of the cycle. (No, all awful things don’t target you- you don’t need to constantly crib or be miserable- you can make the effort and be at the deciding end rather than a victim of everything!)

The “How am I thinking?” Checklist is something I found while reading the book ‘The Magic of Thinking Big’ by David J. Schwartz. It helps me put my thoughts in order, and aim higher- thought I’d share it to encourage better thinking and decision making.

  1. When I worry:
    • Would an important person worry about this? Would the most successful person I know be disturbed about this?
  2. An idea:
    • What would an important person do if he had this idea?
  3. My appearance:
    • Do I look like someone who has maximum self-respect?
  4. My language:
    • Am I using the language of successful people?
  5. What I read:
    • Would an important person read this?
  6. Conversation:
    • Is this something successful people would discuss?
  7. When I lose my temper:
    • Would an important person get mad at what I’m mad at?
  8. My job:
    • How does an important person describe his job to others?

You know, you don’t have to belittle yourself and get demotivated just because you’re a little behind in the race. I always tell myself, “the race is long and in the end, it is only with yourself.” You need to develop the mindset of a person who likes winning, dreams big and is successful to make yourself push and work harder and get closer to your dreams.

Would you rather talk to a smiling person or a miserable grumpy looking fella? So don’t be the grumpy stuck-up person- look interesting, approachable and generous and try harder to build meaningful relationships and have the deep conversations, and listen. You’ll be surprised by how many people have a life full of interesting stories to share but never get an ear. Instead of turning your head into a book or your latest smartphone, see opportunities in people- imagine what a great read a person could be.

Now go ahead, and be the interesting book that everyone would want to read. Develop the mindset of the change-bringers, the go-getters, the dreamers, the misfits and do not give up just yet. I had the writer’s block for the last week, because of negative emotions in my head about a lot of things. Everyone has those days where you lack inspiration, feel low, and just can’t look at the brighter side- I had a week of that. However, this checklist and my mindset is helping me to get back on track. My dream is to affect millions of lives positively and make a real difference so you see, I can’t let a bad week get in the way of that ambition. Now, that’s how you let go of little things in the light of the bigger picture.

“Make mistakes, make glorious mistakes.”- Neil Gaiman

“Experience is what you get, when you didn’t get what you wanted“- Randy Pausch

Life is your canvas, focus on the bigger picture and paint it however you like.