Self-Talk and Affirmation

From the outside looking in I shouldn’t have had any reason to be struggling with self confidence.  I had just gained 30lbs of muscle and the skills I needed to master were becoming much easier now that I was stronger. I even quickly began moving to more advanced stunts as I was getting closer and closer to matching the older guys pound for pound in the weight room.  I had achieved exactly what I was after…

However, while I clearly needed the size and strength to perform on the team, something still wasn’t right. Even though my body had transformed and I was performing really well, I was still struggling with insecurity and self doubt. 

The moment that it all crystalized for me was a conversation with my Dad.  He had come down one weekend to see me. I had just returned from cheering for a pep rally for incoming freshman students.  He could tell that I was down and started peppering me with questions.  My dad is legendary for his “on a scale of 1 to 10” questions.

I think it was the only way to draw my introverted self out to discuss the deeper issues that were really getting me down.  I never really understood why he did that but now that I have a nine year-old son that is just like me I’m starting to get it! 

After several 1 to 10 questions he eventually he got me to open up about what I was dealing with:

“Dad, I feel like everyone is laughing at me on the field” I told him. “I don’t feel like I belong.  Like I’m an imposter or something.” 

My Dad was completely incredulous and couldn’t believe I was feeling this way.  “Son,” He said, “You’ve got it all wrong!  You’re the guy everyone wants to be.  You’re the guy on the field, the guy with all of the muscles!”

I didn’t really pay much attention to what he was saying and quickly dismissed it as something that Dad’s are supposed to say.  But later, after he had left I began to ponder what he had told me.  I started to examine the type of thoughts that I was allowing to bounce around in my brain.

I was thinking things like:

“Why is everyone laughing at me?”

“I wonder if everyone saw me drop that stunt on the field?”

“I’ll never be as good as the other guys”

“Do I really have what it takes?”

I slowly began to realize that my internal dialogue was awful and I was focusing on everything negative (and nothing positive.)

My Dad’s advice resonated with some of the very things that I was reading from Arnold at the time.  So many of Arnold’s biggest breakthroughs were preceded by positive affirmations. He stated exactly what he was going to do and how he was going to do it.  One of his examples that really stood out to me, from The Education of a Bodybuilder was:

I knew I was a winner back in the late sixties. I knew I was destined for great things. People will say that kind of thinking is totally immodest. I agree. Modesty is not a word that applies to me in any way. I hope it never will.

I started to think that maybe my Dad and Arnold were on to something…

I knew nothing about positive self talk and affirmations. So, I began to simply repeat my Dad’s words to myself whenever I began to get fearful and anxious.

“Forrest, you are the guy who everyone wants to be,” I would say to myself.  “You’re the guy with all of the muscles!”  It seemed incredibly silly at first.  Ridiculous even.  You can go ahead and laugh. It really is funny. But It really did work!

I would never have admitted to anyone that I was saying these things to myself.  Little did I know, later in life I would tell this story in every single goal setting seminar I ever taught… and now this blog for the whole world to read! Or, that I would have 20 affirmations that I would repeat to myself every single morning driving to work.

Even though my self affirmations were limited and awkward I immediately noticed a change in my thinking and my confidence.  I am not quite sure I believed the things that I was telling myself but I couldn’t deny the difference it was making in my self confidence levels.  I started to carry myself differently.  I had a more positive outlook on life and I loved the way I was feeling.

I went back to my Arnold book and re-read the entire thing.  I highlighted every time I recognized the role that positive self talk and affirmations had in his career.  I expanded my own affirmations and really paid attention to my internal dialogue.  I recognized that I had self limiting beliefs in so many areas of my life to include school and what I thought was possible with my life.

As I replaced more and more negativity in my thinking with positivity --- everything changed.  I was gaining confidence in every area of my life and felt unstoppable.  I started making the best grades I had ever made in my life and discovered that I really enjoyed learning.  I rediscovered my love for reading and applied it to books on goal setting and personal development.

My affirmations and goal setting also drove me deeper into my love for working out.  I began dreaming about taking it all to the next level and actually competing in the sport of bodybuilding.  I didn’t know anyone who had ever done it or even where to begin, but my new found positive affirmations told me I could do anything, after all I was the guy with the muscles!