Physiotherapy, motivation and mindset
“Whether you, think you can or think you can’t, you are right” – Henry Ford
The way you think matters.
You may have heard of mindset being the key to achieving the results you want in life, whether it be in your personal life, career or in sports.
Mindset, as defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary, is a person’s way of thinking and their opinions.
Your thoughts have the ability to shape outcomes and results. The words we say to ourselves and speak out loud eventually become our actions and reality.
Our ability to adopt a positive mindset can have a big bearing on our ability to work through obstacles by focusing on solutions rather than the problems themselves.
We all have the ability to be our own coaches and cheerleaders. Some of us find it easier to pick ourselves up and move on after experiencing roadblocks, while some of us need a little extra help. The difference between these two groups of people is their mindset, and perception of the situation they find themselves in.
Here at The Physio Co, we create meaningful goals for our clients. We want to strive for and achieve outcomes that are meaningful to them.
But it’s not always smooth sailing. It’s only human to have days when you do not feel motivated to do anything. You may be finding it less than easy to stick to your exercise plan, either due to other priorities in your life that are demanding your attention, or you may be finding that you have not made much progress reaching your goals and feel flat as a result.
Whatever your reason, there is always a solution to achieving your outcomes by adjusting your focus and creating a positive mindset and a different way of looking at things.
3 EASY WAYS TO GET STARTED USING YOUR MINDSET TO MOTIVATE YOU
Be mindful of the words you speak daily. Having a focus on the negatives in a situation draws the brain’s focus on the negative action or task and attracts more of the same experiences and results.
Replace “I can’t” with “I can” or “I will”. This change of words to a more positive nature allows the brain to look for solutions rather than being stuck on the problem or challenge.
I used this strategy with a client of mine who kept saying “I can’t … I can’t do it … No, I just can’t … It’s too hard”. She was always so focused on what she could not do (in this case, it was trying to stand upright without holding onto her walker for 10 seconds, as part of her exercise session with me. She had done this movement before without realising it in a test I had given her, and was so focused on all that could go wrong instead). By getting her to change her words to ones that encouraged her; to believe that it was possible and to see how her thoughts were limiting her without valid reasons behind them, over time she was able to do the balance exercises.
You may be aware that most athletes have mantras or mottos that drive and motivate them to do better or go further. You may be familiar with Nikes’ mantra – “Just Do It”. These mantras, words or statements are positive power words that drive them on with their training. They are a form of self-encouragement that successful athletes use to pep themselves up from time to time. Acknowledge that you WILL have some ‘down’ days and ‘flat’ days, and know that it is completely normal. Create a mantra or motto of your own for days like this.
A good mantra I love to use for myself is “you will always feel good after a workout”.
Once you have caught yourself using negative words like “I can’t”, “I’m not good enough”, “It’s too hard”, you are better placed to do something about it.
By changing the way you look at a situation, you are more likely to discover new things about it. For instance, in the case of my client who did not attempt her balance exercises with me just because she said she “could not” and focused on all that could go wrong in a session, she was subconsciously telling her body the exercise could not be done.
Try asking yourself the question: “What are the positive things that can come about from me engaging in this task or exercise?”
In the case of my client, she may stumble a little at first and this might give her a little fright at first (suffice to say all calculated risks taken by a physio only come after appropriate physical assessment and screening) – but activity that caused her to stumble and then regain her balance can be used to give her the confidence in her physical abilities. This is when the brain lays down new neural ‘pathways’, and each time you engage in a challenging task, it goes over this pathway.
Just like those little tracks you see through beachside bushland and scrubs. They start out as flattened grass or shrubs, and over time, after people have trampled on the grass route for a while, the sandy narrow tracks are formed. They become more visible and deepened over time until it becomes a familiar and well-worn path.
The same is said for starting new and challenging tasks. Look at the challenge as an OPPORTUNITY rather than an obstacle.
Just like any muscle in the body, new habits require practice and regular use.
Retrain your brain to see the positives in every situation and this will help you stay motivated and focused on your outcomes without getting stressed about what’s not happening. To do this, get into the habit to consciously notice three positive changes a day.
To give you an idea of what this may look like, in my client’s case, the ‘three positives’ she needed help to realise were:
- I can now stand up from my chair without using my arms to help me (rather than thinking “I still need to hold onto my walker when standing).
- I am able to stand at the kitchen sink now and fill a glass of water (rather than: “I still can’t stand for long at the sink”).
- I am able to reach for a glass in the cupboard now (rather than: I can’t reach the top shelf of the cupboard”).
Give these quick tips a go!
Remember: only YOU have what it takes to make the change required to influence a given situation. Some situations you can control, others not so much.
But what you can control is the way you THINK about a certain situation. And since all actions follow thought, ensuring these thoughts are positive instead of negative can have a big impact on your life.
Article written by: Esther Ram (TPC Physiotherapist)