The Fifth Discipline

MI have been working a lot on nutrition, which is considered The Fourth Discipline in multisport (just ask Friel).  I'm making a concerted effort to switch my diet back to clean, whole, fresh foods much like when I was vegetarian.  I'm also aiming to reduce (not eliminate) my meat consumption.  Basically, I'm sick of gimmick diets; I just want to eat fresh, unprocessed, high-quality food so that I don't have to focus on portions and obsess and I can in turn perform optimally and still lose weight while indulging in the occasional treat.

But there is also what I consider a 5th Discipline: self-confidence.

My struggle for self-efficacy, confidence, recognition, esteem, and understanding seem to have taken me most of my adult life. I don't pretend that I know much, or all, of myself.  But I approach every day as another opportunity for self-discovery and enlightenment.

Being an athlete is a big part of that.  Learning how to be a better athlete is highly mental and emotional, and firmly grounded in becoming more self-aware and efficacious.

Mantras are one of those tricks touted by books on self-help and mental training for athletes alike.  I love mantras.  They’re both powerful and empowering.  Repeating one to yourself can pump you up when you’re down and boost you even higher when you’re up.  And, whether you realize it or not, you have keywords and phrases you say to yourself all the time.  So why not make it something that subconsciously lifts you?

What was it Henry Ford said?  Whether you think you can or you can’t – you’re right?  And I believe it - what you think to yourself (about what you CAN or CAN’T do every day) eventually sticks.

Well, like my blog, my mantra has had many incarnations.  My old mantra was there is nothing I cannot accomplish with a strong will and an open heart.  And that mantra served its purpose, but I outgrew it.  Besides, I realized I was using the word NOT. Using the word NOT is like putting on the mental or emotional brakes – just doesn't belong in a key phrase that enables me to do something.

So I decided to go back to an expression I loved years ago and make THAT my mantra.  Somebody said this to me this weekend, when I was complaining about how I looked in a bathing suit that was a bit too small – and I was really reminded me how powerful it is.  It's just two little words that carry a LOT of weight.

OWN it.

First, and most literally, I made a serious effort to live only on cash a few years back.  It’s been tough, but I’ve been completely credit-card free for over 2 years and partly credit-card free for over 4.  I literally OWN everything I have.  I re-learned how to save up and appreciate something once I can afford to (you guessed it) own it.

But OWNING it can mean owning UP to something, too.  Owning up to both our faults and strengths.  Our good and bad sides are both part of who we are – so why not own them BOTH?  You’ll never be completely free of either, so you might as well just embrace all of it!  (If this sounds suspiciously like Debbie Ford's shadow process, where she asks readers to embrace their "dark" or "bad" side and take full responsibility for it, it should.  It's the same concept  Also see previous blogs about my dad's there are no victims, only volunteers philosophy.)

So I'm going to make a concentrated effort to use this phrase any time a bad, scary, insecure, or otherwise uncomfortable thought pops into my head.

Something else I take for granted, and I think a lot of us do: the people we spend our time around also make a difference in how we feel about ourselves.  Almost as much as what we think to ourselves.  And, a lot of the time, the things those people say or think about themselves - even jokingly - rub off on us.  If someone calls themselves fatty or idiot, don't you eventually start to feel like either they are, or you are?

If you could choose to surround yourself with someone who never talked bad about themselves, imagine how powerful that would be.  Just imagine it!

A few days ago, I asked a friend if she thought I was more positive than I used to be.  She said, yeah but I don't know how much of that is real and how much of that is "fake it 'til you make it."

My response?

Once you've made it, it is real.

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