My mum gave me a priceless present. She taught me to control my thoughts. Swap one for another.
Today people might call it using “mantras” or “affirmations”, but for me it’s not about repeating, “I am wealthy, healthy and abundant” in front of the mirror every morning.
For me it means taking responsibility for my thoughts. Using my thoughts to help me achieve my goals and to heal my mind and body.
This skill helped me believe I could achieve anything. I became a national gymnastics champion at 16, not because I was the strongest, the springiest or the most flexible, but because I believed I could do it.
Science explains why changing our thoughts can help us heal. Buddha says, “We become what we think”, but it’s actually really hard to manage the demons inside your head, to cope with self-doubt, fear of not being loved, fear of not being enough and fear of failure.
Listen: Di Westaway chats to Mamamia about her life. (Post continues…)
But fearlessness comes from facing fear frequently. Whenever you hear that inner critic telling you you’re you’re not smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, wealthy enough, young enough, you have an opportunity to change your mind.
It’s hard to do. And if you have a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety, you might need professional help. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) teaches you how recognise the unhelpful patterns that contribute to your depression or anxiety and replace them with new ones that reduce it and help you cope better.
But for most of us, it’s about accepting responsibility for our bodies, our minds and our health. That’s tough. I often fail. It’s a moment-by-moment, hourly, daily, weekly personal mind challenge. But I still try, every day.
The way it works for me is to swap one thought with another. If you have a negative thought, one that sucks your confidence or makes you feel bad, sad or mad, you chuck it out and replace it with a positive thought.
For example, you might think, “My thighs are so fat that they jiggle when I run.” This is a negative, useless thought. Once you recognise that, you can think, “I’m so lucky that my legs are strong enough to run.” Or, “Wow, I have no injuries and this run doesn’t hurt.” Or even, “I’m running! Go me!”
You can replace a negative feeling such as, “Eugh, I don’t want to go to work today,” with a positive one such as, “I’m so excited to see my friends this Friday night”.