Have you ever really thought about what reality is? Is my reality the same as your reality? Is your idea of reality right and mine wrong? The simple answer to those questions is no. Our realities are not the same, and neither of us is right or wrong. We simply perceive the world differently.
How you perceive anything in life becomes your reality. And this applies to your fitness journey as well. Do you look at your workout for the day and think “Oh my gosh, there is no way I can do this!”? Or do you look at it and think “This is gonna be a great challenge and I am going to kill it!”? Whichever version you tell yourself walking into the gym is what you will see play out when you start working.
Our minds are powerful. If we walk around with a negative mindset, we will see everything bad in the world. If something small upsets us first thing in the morning and we automatically think our day is ruined because of it, the rest of the day will be terrible. But if we instead focus on seeing the positive in our daily lives, if we make it a habit to have a positive mindset, we will have a positive life. If the heater goes out in your house, you could easily think what terrible luck you have and focus on how much money it will cost to fix or replace it. However, if you instead are thankful to have a house that needs a heater, you might not see a furnace replacement in such a negative light. When you feed negative thoughts and fears, they become your reality.
Perception is reality. There is nothing more to your reality than this. How you perceive the world is your own personal reality. You cannot view life from somebody else’s perspective. You can empathize with them but your reality is not the same as theirs. Everything you see and hear and feel on a daily basis is specific to you. Another person could very well have the exact same experiences as you but they will perceive them differently.
DEFINING YOURSELF AND YOUR REALITY
Have you ever wondered to yourself, or even asked out loud, “Am I an athlete?” Mariam-Webster defines an athlete as “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.” This is a very open-ended definition. Nowhere does it say you are only an athlete if you play or played team sports. It doesn’t say you have to actually be good at a sport to be considered an athlete. It doesn’t say you only count as an athlete if you have a trophy to show for it. This definition covers everybody that participates in exercise, sports, and games. Do you go to the gym daily to work out? Then you are, by definition, an athlete.
The technical definition of “athlete” may tell the world that you are one, but what is your perception of yourself? Because remember, perception is reality. If you are pushing yourself physically day in and day out, if you are taking steps to become a fitter version of yourself, why don’t you see yourself as an athlete? You are exactly what you say you are; nothing more, nothing less. Your mind is the energy that controls everything. You must believe in yourself, believe you are an athlete, to make that your reality. How you choose to define yourself, how you choose to perceive yourself, becomes your reality.
Hopefully, if you are working with a trainer, or coach, they refer to you as an athlete and not as their “client.” Because ultimately, this relationship is a coach-athlete relationship at its core. Your coach is teaching you to better yourself at whatever your chosen sport or exercise is. Even if you struggle to refer to yourself as an athlete, if your coach perceives you as one and calls you an athlete, you will eventually hear it enough to begin to believe it, thus altering your own perception of yourself and ultimately, your reality.
THE SCIENCE OF SELF DOUBT
Scientists have actually found that doubt lights up neurotransmitters in your brain. Doubt creates electro-chemical responses that have physical responses in your brain that form neuro pathways. This is why the term “self-fulfilling prophecy” exists. Your brain builds connections and strengthens areas of doubt. The more we doubt ourselves, the more it seems to us that we fail. Our brain wants to fail because we have prepped that area of our brain for failure. You may say, “I failed because I knew I was going to fail.”
The more we focus on negative thoughts, self-talk, and ideas, the more we will perceive ourselves as somebody with low confidence and self-esteem. We are actually feeding fear and negative thoughts when we do this. We need to realize that how we define ourselves becomes our reality.
But what if you feed your mind with ideas of success? What if you say instead, “I thought I could do it, so I did it!”? We can feed our minds with positivity and feelings of being powerful and capable, and know that we are the driving force behind our own reality. What we focus on every day is what we will move toward in our lives.
When you walk into the gym, do not doubt that you can do the work you are setting out to do. Do not doubt that you are an athlete. Remind yourself that you are strong and capable and create your own reality. This doesn’t mean you won’t have days that you fail. Failure is a part of the process. It means you know that failure doesn’t define you. You know that you can try again. You learn and grow and you come back better because your mindset is positive.
YOU ARE TRULY LIMITLESS
As you begin to change your perception of yourself, you will find you are truly limitless. Think of a person who achieves something amazing that they should never have been able to accomplish. Did they doubt themselves? No! If they had any doubt, they would have failed. They aren’t special, although we prefer to think of them that way to give ourselves an excuse to fail. They don’t have anything anybody else doesn’t have, they just believed in themselves and created their own reality. We are in control of our own lives. If you tell yourself that you are the best, that you are the strongest you, that you will have a good day, the possibilities are endless.
The mind is truly more powerful than our muscles and bones. Think about how you feel during a workout, when everything hurts and you think you can’t possibly do anything more. That is your brain holding you back! This is a survival mechanism. Your brain will stop at a perceived exertion in order to protect us. The brain doesn’t want us to push to a point where it thinks our muscles can’t work. Here again we see that perception is reality. The brain has perceived your limit. You have to tell yourself it is wrong. Limits are self-imposed and created by a brain that works for us. If you tell yourself you can’t, your brain will tell you that you are right, you can’t.
HOW DO I BEGIN TO CHANGE MY PERCEPTION?
If you want to change your reality, begin by changing your perception. Start by saying small things even if you don’t truly believe them yet. Continue this daily until you do believe it. Build up these small things over a long period of time. We will falter at times, but when we do, we need to have built up a resilience to whatever seeks to tear us down. We need to set out with great intentions and motivations.
Change your story. Don’t ask if you are an athlete. Tell people, “I am an athlete.” Do not be passive in your life. Create for yourself the life you want to lead. Instead of thinking, “I am not an athlete because I have never played organized sports,” tell yourself, “I hadn’t found my athletic gifts yet in high school” or “I didn’t know the power of my own potential in high school so I never reached my full potential there, but I will now.” How you define yourself is truly the only thing that matters. Nobody else is walking in your shoes. You cannot control how the world sees you. You can only control how you perceive things and what your own reality is.
Successful people don’t believe their critics. If somebody tells them that they can’t do it, they will say “watch me.” Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. But Jordan didn’t let this hold him back. Could you imagine if he had listened to that coach and believed he wasn’t good enough to play basketball?
If you want to change your reality, start here:
- Change your story.
- This will change your perception.
- Your life will change as you manifest what you believe. What you tell yourself you are is what you will become.
Next time you find yourself wondering, “Am I am athlete? I have always wished I was but I feel like that term is reserved for fit people or people who play(ed) organized sports,” change your inner dialogue. Tell yourself, “I am an athlete and I am going to go in there and crush this workout!” And watch as your perception changes your reality.