Monday, February 22, 2010

Evan Lysacek - A Good Affirmation and a Gold Medal

In the 2010 Winter Olympics American Evan Lysacek edged Russian Evgeni Plushenko for the Olympic gold medal in men's figure skating. Woo-hoo!

To me the interesting thing about his performance was his use of an affirmation to correct his fretting attitude. In the AP article by Nancy Armour, he said he struggled during his preparations for the Olympics, but he had to put that behind him somehow. "I've had to shove all those thoughts out of my head, and my thought process was just 'mind your own business.' I wrote that on a little card when I got here and taped it up in my room. Mind your own business, worry about what I have to do and what my job is."

And apparently it helped.

Most sports psychologists recommend affirmations and visualization to enhance the performance of their athlete clients. Yes, these are mental strategies. But thoughts guide our actions. And thoughts can affect feelings, which in turn affect our actions.

Affirmations can help you, too. This is the reason there's a library of Fortune Cookies in ProStar Coach. And the Strength Journeys included ProStar Coach convey several affirmations in every meditation.

Affirmations can help, if they are true. 

In my opinion, it's not enough to be positive. The problem is, not every affirmation you come across on the web is "fit for human consumption." I sometimes see affirmations that while positive, are potentially untrue or unrealistic.

For example, "The world is conspiring to fill my bank account with wealth." Uh, no. Not true.

Another: "Women find me very sexy." That would be nice. But is it really true?

And this one: "I possess all the resources I need to successfully accomplish my goals." Maybe this statement is true. But maybe it's not. It depends on the facts. Thinking it won't make it so. 

If an affirmation isn't true, there are two problems. First, if you're hoping that repeating a false statement to yourself will lead to the success you desire, you'll probably be disappointed. The world doesn't work that way. In the real world, cause and effect rule. You have to do the work.

A greater danger is that trying to believe something that you know isn't true can cause what psychologists call "cognitive dissonance," which means that the brain struggles with conflicting input - the untrue affirmation statement vs. your knowledge of the truth. The conflict can lead to psychological problems and inappropriate behavior.

Good affirmations describe positives that are likely to be true and real. For example, "I can examine both the upsides and the downsides before deciding." Or, "I can get more done quickly by using the talents of the people around me." Yet another: "I can follow through and deliver on my promises."

So be selective! Be careful to use "good affirmations" - affirmations that are grounded in reality.

Here's a well-grounded Fortune Cookie for you:
Don’t waste time on regret, and you’ll have more time for what’s happening right now.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., , Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

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