How are You Using the Power of YOUR Mind?

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By Dr. Allison Belger

Short-and-to-the-point message this week, as I’m busy being a “Dance Mom” for the first time in my parenting career—fodder for a future post, no doubt.

One of my clever and witty Facebook and real-life friends, Teresa Basich, posted the following status earlier in the week:

The 30 minutes it takes for a Cold-EEZE lozenge to dissolve + the 15 minutes I’m supposed to wait after it’s dissolved before drinking anything = TORTURE ON LEVELS I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW EXISTED.

This was funny to me, because of how ridiculous and accurate it is at the same time.

My father is an MD with a specialty in infectious disease.  He is straightforward and data-driven in his approach, and he rarely buys into remedies that claim to shorten or diminish the effects of the cold virus. Recently, though, he followed some research suggesting that a certain product (not Cold-EEZE), when taken at the onset of a sore throat, significantly reduced the duration and intensity of the common cold. That was enough to get me to purchase the product the last time I had a sore throat and felt a cold coming on.

The wind came out of my sails a bit when I read the packaging:  no eating or drinking 30 minutes prior to, and after, taking this remedy.  Seriously? I had to guarantee that I would not eat or drink for a whole hour?  Like most people, I go without consumption for an hour at a time quite often.  But, there’s something deeply troubling about being told I MUST refrain for a period of time.  Ever have a colonoscopy?  Worst part by far?  The 24-hour period of no eating or drinking leading up to the procedure.  The procedure itself is a walk in the park compared to the starvation that one must endure prior.

Of course I’m trying to be funny here, and I realize that 24 hours without food is, in the grand scheme of life, in a world where people go hungry all the time, neither starvation nor a tragedy by any stretch.  My point is to highlight the mental battle that accompanies hard, fast rules about what we can and can’t eat or drink.  Don’t worry.  I’m not writing about nutrition or diet or how to get your eating in order.  I’m writing about the power of the mind, using food restriction as an example of how significant our mental processes are in the way we live our lives.

The mind is incredibly powerful.  It can fixate on restrictions and make us immediately and aggressively crave things we have been told we cannot have.  It can also buy into hard and fast rules, so that we structure our entire lives around our belief systems.  The mind can gather information that will affect how we eat, exercise, and socialize.  It can serve us well, and it can betray us if left unchecked.

Remember this the next time you’re up against a physical or mental challenge.  Remember that if you tell yourself you’re not up to the task, or if you allow yourself to believe in deeply rooted self doubts, you are setting yourself up for failure.  Remember this the next time you’re anxious about an upcoming presentation and you’re bombarding yourself with all the ways you have ever stumbled in front of a crowd.  Remember this the next time you read the workout posted for week one of the CrossFit Open.  All it will take is a mantra akin to “I suck at those movements” to start the process of resignation in that powerful brain of yours.  Remember this, too, the next time you’re struggling in a relationship and you tell yourself you’re “damaged” because of your childhood.  If you repeat the same story long enough, you will be hard pressed to ever create a new one.

Appreciate the power of the mental game. The playing field has no boundaries, and there’s no clock.  It’s always happening, so you’d better make up your mind to be flexible and positive.  Otherwise, you’re choosing to limit yourself.

 

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