I have always been fascinated about the connection between our internal dialogue and our behavior. I guess this fascination came to me when I was about 14 or 15 years old, swimming competitively and competing regularly in both local, state and national swim meets. Upon retrospection, I have realised this influential time in my life taught me a hell of a lot about mindset. I came to believe that the mind was one hugely powerful tool in both physical performance and behaviour. Let me explain.
I used to train hard for swimming. I used to get out to Chandler Sports Complex around 8-10 times per week, in the pursuit of an Olympic swimming career (or at least that's what I thought I wanted). I loved training. I used to push myself mentally to the point of pain every single session without fail. Sometimes I would physically vomit. However this did not phase me in the slightest. Training was training; there was no pressure, it was fun, I got to chat with my team mates and make many jokes whilst working hard in both the pool and the gym. There was a fire inside of me that made getting out of bed at 4:45am every (school) morning easy.
However when it came to competing - it was a completely different story. I would start the day with a restless sleep - waking multiple times during the night due to nerves. Finally when it was time to get up, I couldn't stomach anything to eat for breakfast before a big day of racing. Sometimes, I would eat jelly. Yep, you read correctly: red or blue jelly. It's all I could stomach otherwise I would physically be sick (actually, one time I was sick and all I vomited up was red and blue jelly).
I laugh looking back now. There is no way I was fueling myself for success in the pool, but hell, I didn't know any better at the time and although my parents tried to force something substantial into my mouth, I wouldn't have a bar of it.
I would get to the pool, warm up, and wait nervously for my races all day. The marshaling area was kind of like an american school canteen - there were the "cool" kids (the good swimmers), the "nerdy" kids; the loners like myself who didn't speak to anyone (this became weird when I was one of the "good swimmers" rated 1st of 2nd yet I would still act like a nerd, not speaking to anyone). I used to look on at my competitors, laughing and joking in the marshaling area, whilst I tried holding back a spew due to nerves.
Why the hell was I so nervous?
It turns out it was all to do with my internal dialogue; my "linguistic prison" if you will. I realise now (but certainly not back then) that I was stuck in my own head. I didn't actually believe I was good enough to be on that podium. To even accomplish that personal best, let alone that medal or place on the team. I used to joke to my coach because I would often perform personal bests during training (when there was no pressure) and just bomb out when it came to racing.
This experience during my formative years has really shaped who I am today, and why I do what I do. I recently listened to a podcast on the "Broken Brain" podcast series with Dhru Purohit & Dr Mark Hyman. The episode was #55: How to Redesign the Subconscious Mind from Limitation to Freedom with Peter Crone. It was life changing.
I don't say life changing lightly. Peter Crone described my exact experience when I was growing up: I was misidentified with my mind and body. I lived from a place of inadequacy in my mind: the "I'm not enough" thought pattern became my linguistic prison, which created blocks and limitations on my physical performance.
Peter Crone talked about how so many of us are chasing "true happiness". However he described true happiness in a different context: It was "the absence for the search for happiness". Read that again.
I realised that we so often believe that external things will make us happy. How often do we hear "When I get that pay rise, I will be happy", or, "When I find my soul mate I will be truly happy", or, "When I lose 10kg I will be happy". We try to manipulate our circumstance rather than change our subconscious thought patterns.
I'm not saying I have mastered my own "linguist prison", or that I don't catch myself wishing for materialistic or circumstantial changes that I think will further my happiness. However, I am saying that I am consistently working on becoming more aware of my subconscious though processes. I will often catch myself out, however that is totally ok.
What I have learnt is that you can be a millionaire and a perfect life and still not be happy, and this is 100% to do with the internal dialogue we have with ourselves, and how grateful we are for what we actually do have.
As soon as you shift your perspective from "wanting" to "grateful" - everything changes. We really can find freedom from a self-imposed jail cell - you just have to become more aware of some deeply entrenched beliefs.
If you would like to learn more, please follow this link to listen to the podcast episode where Peter Crone will blow your mind: https://drhyman.com/blog/2019/05/16/bb-ep55/