BELIEVE IT OR NOT
“I think I can. I think I can.” -The Little Engine That Could
GAME 6 OF THE 1986 WORLD SERIES- The Boston Red Sox lead the series over the New York Mets 3 games to 2. Its the bottom of the 10th inning. The Boston Red Sox are up by one to the Ny Mets and are only one out away from their first World Series Title since 1918.
… A wild pitch allows the tying run to score from third. Now, with the count full, and the winning run on second, Mets’ batter Mookie Wilson hits a slow roller down the first base line. Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, squares up in front of the ball for an easy out, which will send the game into an 11th inning. As the ball approaches Buckner’s Glove and Red Sox fans breathe a collective sigh of relief…we pause…
Flashback to 19 days earlier…It’s October 6, 1986. In an interview with Don Shane of WBZ-TV, Bill Buckner describes the pressures of post-season play…
“The dreams are that you’re gonna have a great series and win. The nightmares are that you’re gonna let the winning run score on a ground ball through your legs. Those things happen, you know. I think a lot of it is just fate.”
“What You Think, You Become”-The Buddha
Flash Forward to Buckner as we earlier left him. He lowers his glove to field the slow grounder, but mis-times it…the ball dribbles between his legs. The winning run scores…The Mets win game 6 and go on to win the series. Buckner’s legacy is born…the perpetrator of one of sport’s most disastrous blunders.
Bill Buckner fell victim to an extremely common phenomenon known as a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t…you’re right!”-Henry Ford
Your beliefs, which are created, reinforced and changed throughout your life according to your experiences, teachings, environment etc dictate your actions and behaviors. Your actions and behaviors contribute to your outcomes. Your outcomes reinforce or contradict your beliefs, and the cycle perpetuates itself until finally you die (yes…you will die…whether you believe it or not).
“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”
This principle is evident everywhere you look. Kids who are repeatedly told they are expected to do well at something perform better than those who are told otherwise, relative to aptitude. Hypnosis, auto suggestion, the “placebo effect”, brain washing…these are all different applications of this same principle.
HOW TO USE IT
1. Decide what your goals are- pick just a couple to start. For example, you might want to lose weight. You might want to qualify for regionals next year. You might just want to be happy.
2. Write an affirmation for each goal- these should be in present tense, first person, and reflect that you have already reached your goal. For example, “I am thin and healthy”, “I am a regional Crossfit competitor in the central east region”, or “I am happy”. They must also be in the positive. We all know what happens when you say to someone “don’t look down”…they look down. Whatever you do, DON’T THINK ABOUT A PINK ELEPHANT! Don’t do it! You thought of a pink elephant, didn’t you? Get the point? So only use “affirmative” words.
3. Pick a time of day when you will recite your affirmations- early in the morning and before bed are two good times. Make sure you have five or ten minutes to devote to the recitation of your affirmations.
4. Find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed-you don’t want unwanted words creeping in and changing the meaning of your affirmations. Like, you might mean to say “I am happy”, but in the middle of your sentence your seven-year-old shouts ” I can’t get the KNOT out of my laces”. What your brain hears is “I am KNOT happy”. (Ok, so that won’t really happen, but quiet is still ideal).
5. Repeat each affirmation to yourself with feeling, like you really believe it. (It’s ok if you don’t believe it at first. It will find its way into your subconscious with time and consistent practice).
6. Imagine what you look like, feel like, etc. as the version of “you” suggested by the affirmation.
7. Leave it alone and go on about life as usual- don’t harp on it all day long. Just focus on it deeply during your daily practice, then move on.
BELIEF IS MORE POWERFUL THAN FACT
When you believe something to be true, you act in accordance with that belief. For much of human history, it was believed that the earth was flat. The fact that the earth is round did not affect the outcomes that stemmed from the belief that it was flat nearly to the degree that the belief itself affected the outcomes. Explorers did not venture “beyond the horizon” for fear that they would “fall off” the earth. The belief that the earth was flat was a limiting factor in the discovery of new lands.
We all live with self-limiting beliefs. Usually, these are in the form of fears and doubts. The good news is that you can actually “reprogram” many of your beliefs to reflect your desired outcomes by employing mental conditioning techniques such as the use of positive affirmations.
Perhaps the most famous example of mental conditioning, although only loosely related to the use of positive affirmations is Pavlov’s Dog. Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov demonstrated that by consistently ringing a bell before giving a dog food, he could condition or reprogram the dog to associate the bell with feeding time. After many repetitions, when the bell rang, the dog would begin to salivate even in the absence of any food. The dog became conditioned on a physiological level to “act” in accordance with a subconscious belief. The belief does not need to be “correct” in order for the conditioned response to occur.
So, you see, affirmations need not be rational. Most of your deep-seated beliefs aren’t rational anyway. Think about it. What’s scarier, driving to the grocery store or swimming in the middle of the ocean alone? Most people are subconsciously more afraid of being eaten by JAWS than of being killed in a car wreck, but you are more than 1000 times more likely to die from the latter. Even one of our greatest American heroes has ridiculously irrational beliefs as is evidenced in his best selling song “I believe I can fly”. Yes people! I’m talking about R. Kelly (Sorry. I couldn’t think of another example, and I’m running up against a deadline here).
CONGRATULATIONS! You are successful! 😉