“Some people don’t walk because they don’t want to walk. They’re unable to do anything about it. Physically they can. But mentally they cannot. And that’s why they don’t walk.”
That’s what my physical therapist says.
“Some people are born to be happy. Others are born to be unhappy. It’s all a matter of what YOU believe in.”
That’s what my favourite writer – Dostoyevsky – said.
“When you believe in the law of karma, that everything has its consequences, that everything that you saw in your mind comes back to you, the world around you changes. You attract different people and different events. It’s not magic. It’s physics.”
That’s what my Buddhist teacher says.
We all know that mind has impact on how we feel. If you need proofs – just read any philosophy or even basic self-help book, like “happiness in 5 minutes”.
What fascinates psychologists is impact of our mind not only how we feel but WHO WE FEEL, WHO WE ARE AND WHO WE BELIEVE WE CAN BECOME.
We are hormonally-driven beings – no matter how much we prefer to perceive ourselves as independent and able to control humans. I know that the idea that we’re just puppets of biology and natural laws is not too sexy or inspiring, but that’s a fact.
Our mind is a part of us and our biological system.
Our thoughts, their quality, colour and intensity – all of this have impact on our brain and hormonal system.
We are not puzzled by the adrenaline rush when we see our child climbing the window sill, trying to save their kitty that can fall from fall 4 floor.. But for some reason it is difficult for us to believe that we have exactly the same physiological reactions when someone attacks us by saying things like: you’re nobody, you can’t do it, you won’t make it, you’re a loser, you are not talented enough, stop dreaming. We think and we feel that it’s unpleasant but we don’t think about consequences for our body.
We couldn’t be more wrong.
If we don’t have any serious mental disorder or not stucked in some toxic relationship, we usually aren’t exposed to permanent external attacks. But that’s not a problem, since whenever we lack an enemy we have a tendency to create one and attack ourselves as fiercely as no one else would.
We constantly carry out a dialogue with ourselves. We constantly tell ourselves what we can do and what we cannot. We set ourselves the limits of dreaming and quitting .
We constantly batter ourselves and for some totally irrational reason it seems to us that it’s not a big deal because that’s the truth, a fact and the way we are.
But this isn’t the truth – it’s our subjective reality created by OUR subjectively selected convictions regarding ourselves.
There is a significant difference between reality and subjective reality.
Reality is the fact that New York is large, Vistula is passing through Warsaw and the laws of gravity apply in Australia.
Meanwhile, subjective reality is that Polish bread tastes better, that mom’s soup is better than the one from mother-in-law and that a female colleague from work is slimmer and prettier and everyone finds her attractive.
Changing convictions – that’s one of the most important tasks for a psychologist.
But it’s not up to them to do it. They may help and show HOW to do it, but only YOU can do it.
Which reality you choose and what you believe in is YOUR decision.
Sometimes it’s hard to do it on one’s own. Sometimes you need help. It doesn’t have to be a psychologist if you don’t believe in them.
Or if you don’t want to.
Or if you just have enough of psychologists.
It can be anyone who’s going to show you a different reality and help you believe in it. This new belief will changes your biology and your hormonal condition – so at some point – you will notice changes in your reality..
Anyone who’s going to help you to see the world through different eyes can be your psychologist.
Anyone who can show you a different path.
Anyone who can force you to rethink your convictions.
Natasha is a multiple champion of Ukraine and the world in boxing and Thai boxing. She is also my second most-beloved trainer.
She prepares professional boxers for fights..
She is one of the most mentally healthy people I’ve met.
She never runs away or closes her eyes when she’s sad or angry. Whenever something goes contrary to her plans she doesn’t start any flagellation.
I asked her once how she helps others manage emotions when they have negative convictions.
“What do you do when you see that your boxer is going to lose a fight?
Not because someone is stronger than them, but because they caught that horrible virus: I will lose . Because they have the mind of a loser.”
“There’s no time for that on the ring. I have only a minute. I can’t provide them with any intense therapy and motivational program. So, I YELL AT THEM. I GET MAD. I CALL THEM WEAK AND ALL KINDS OF NAMES.
Is that all you’ve got?! Is that the best you can do?! Are you giving up like a little kid?! Oh, the baby’s scared and gonna cry?!”
I looked at my little Natasha – the most gentle person in the world – and I couldn’t believe my own ears.
“How can you say something like that to them?”
“Julia, there’s simply no time. I have to use what’s the most efficient in such situation. FEAR and ANGER. When there’s not enough time I have to arouse very strong emotions in them, emotions that will make them change their convictions and believe that they can do it. That in the end they are capable of doing it. I need to turn them into machines powered by emotions, make them act, not think. Make them stop self-pitying and analysing. THEY HAVE TO START ACTING. And when they see they’re stronger, this starts driving them.”
“And does it work?”
“Sometimes it does. Sometimes not. But there’s no other way. If this isn’t going to work, nothing will. I have only a minute so I use the strongest emotions possible. If it works – great. If not – this means that I failed to prepare my boxer mentally. It means that they were too weak to win. Good muscles but not enough anger. Not enough motivation to win.”
“And if you have enough time, how do you motivate them when they start to give up?”
“Sometimes we carry out preparations for a few months and fatigue starts setting in. Suddenly things get worse. It’s normal that it happens. But for a boxer this means failure. They start being afraid of losing. They start having self-doubts. The more they doubt, the less they believe and the worse is their training.
The less they believe the weaker, less accurate and less focused they are.
Then I become an observer of the BEST in them. And I do it with magnifying glass.
Every little victory, every single good move and every good hit I magnify tenfold.
YOU’RE A WORLD CHAMPION.
YOU KNOW YOU CAN DO IT.
I’M SO PROUD OF YOU.”
“So you pretend?”
“No, I really believe that. I SEE THAT IN THEM.I know it’s hard for them since their mind is focused on ‘I will not make it’.”
So, I remove the ‘NO’ – I see only the things that went ok, everything that was good and special.
And the more ‘no’-s I remove, the more they do it as well.
And when the ‘no’-s are nowhere to be seen – that’s where faith and powerful focus start.”
I believe that the mind is above the biology.
Working on your convictions is something that can take a lifetime.
That’s why it is important to remember how our mind works and to use all the possible ways of managing it.
Employing the emotions of fear or faith are only two of many different ways.
And yet they helped Natasha become a world champion. Twice.
I wish you that they help you become a champion too. A champion in anything you’d like.