Wednesday Wellness: Putting the Monkey Chatter on MUTE

Often I wait until the “night of” to write my Wednesday Wellness.  I do this because I trust that certain topics of inspiration will come my way in the week’s unfolding so that I can share with you what I’ve learned and who I’ve been inspired by. The last 3 days did just this for me.

Have you ever heard of the term monkey chatter?  It’s the noise in our heads which talk to us over and over telling us what we can’t do, why we can’t do it and how disabled we are at something we believe we can never achieve.  It’s the “I’ll never be good enough” mantra.  And you know what, it works amazingly well!

Saturday, I had the opportunity to ride with an exceptional group of riders on a 65 mile road race (we like to call them “rides”) through the Gilroy foothills (side note, if you’ve never explored the Gilroy foothills…it’s a must do). The riders were of all shapes, ages, sizes and experience.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend a yoga workshop about posture and alignment, again with men and women ranging in age, experience, motivation and flexibility.

On Monday, I had the incredible opportunity to listen to Mark Allen, six-time Ironman victor.

In each of these events, the concept of how our thoughts project our outcome (positive or negative) was the main theme of the day.

For instance, in the bike “ride,” some of the riders were beginning to doubt their ability to finish the event; at the bottom of each hill deciding they wanted to stop - to give up. They struggled with the self talk and convinced themselves they couldn’t finish because they just didn’t have what it took.  The energy expended talking themselves into defeat was more than just doing it!

In the posture clinic, one participant announced that she just had “crappie” (actually, she used a different word) posture and didn’t even want to try because she was destined to slouch.  She always had…always will.

At Mark’s talk, he discussed an event where he was racing against Dave Scott (another well known triathlete) and at the 10th or so mile of the running portion of the Hawaii Ironman, he started to tell himself he just wasn’t any good and couldn’t beat Dave. Dave was the champion…who was he kidding?

In each scenario, self-doubt and the words we tell ourselves can either create a struggle in the event and in life, or the create the ride of a lifetime; one with hope, strength and power.

On the bike ride, many could have given up, convincing themselves they were too weak, heavy, old (fill in the blank) to finish.  Instead, we looked around; there were 2500 riders, each fit in their own way, each doing something phenomenal and so far beyond sitting on the couch watching a TIVO recorded show.  How could one compare them to anything but amazing just by trying?

In the workshop, the participant decided her thoughts about her body needed to change immediately in order to realize she is beautiful and strong and can stand tall.

For Mark Allen, he had a reality check. He was one of two men at the lead of what’s dubbed as the world’s most difficult sport/race. How could he tell himself he wasn’t any good? He was at the heels of the world’s best athlete in extreme conditions, and at the very least, he would take 2nd place over thousands of high-end competitors.   It was at that moment that he realized how good he really was. He felt lightness in his step and went on to pass Dave and begin a 6 time winning streak at Ironman Hawaii (a record still held by the Ironman community for men).

What are the negative things we hear and what do we tell ourselves which keeps us from accepting and loving ourselves?  Are we propelling ourselves with confidence to go beyond our self inflicted limitations or are constantly convincing ourselves we can’t do it?

I am challenging myself this week, as well as my clients to take a look at what we have accomplished and are continuing to achieve instead of what we can’t do because we tell ourselves we aren’t able to for some reason or another.  This week and beyond, I am putting the Monkey Chatter on MUTE!