This article is going to teach you how to take the limits off of your thinking. After all, who would take a step forward to do anything while bogged down with limiting thoughts of, “It can’t be done” or, “I can’t do it”? There isn’t an area of life that low self-confidence, coupled with low self-esteem, doesn’t affect.
When it comes to exercise, unless one’s self-talk is a positive propellant, no one would even try to lift a weight, run a mile or do a plank. “I might hurt myself,” “I can’t last a mile,” “I’ll never be able to hold that plank for even a few seconds” is the kind of thinking that pushes people away from physical activity. Viewing yourself as incompetent and inadequate, hallmarks of low self-confidence, surely impacts your willingness to take a risk. When you are free of this type of thinking, you change seeing everything as a risk into seeing everything as a possibility. Limiting thinking is a true thinking disorder.
Don’t believe you have what it takes? That’ll stop you from putting any effort into exercise and feeds your lack of self-confidence. Since you aren’t attempting to workout, or at best do so only half-heartedly perhaps with anxiety and fear, your underwhelming achievement reinforces your low self-confidence. “See, I can’t do it,” is what’s left and prevents you from getting started or sticking with a workout routine.
How can you determine if your confidence is affecting your achievement of goals? Here are some signs:
- You may be extremely self-critical of your efforts
- You may downplay or ignore your accomplishments or qualities and have a very hard time accepting compliments
- You may continuously rate yourself inferior to others
- You frequently use harsh, unflattering labels to describe yourself, e.g. fat, two left feet, ugly
- You may personalize things that go wrong, blaming yourself when you have nothing to do with an outcome
While it’s difficult to overcome these indicators of low self-confidence, fortunately we do know several steps that lead many to be successful:
- Hire a personal trainer for your home or work out off hours at a local gym
- Consider specific short-term goals that you believe you can accomplish such as solo walks, hikes or setting up a Total Gym at home and following a specific exercise plan.
- Unless you “work in before you work out,” you won’t untangle your limiting thinking, so catch those limiting thoughts, challenge them by looking for objective evidence that what you think is true and then change your thought to something more accurate. For example, “I can’t do that,” might be challenged by asking, “First, how do I know I can’t do it until I try, and second, who says I should or must be able to do that in order to exercise in other ways?” Before you do any exercise, literally see yourself being successful, see yourself doing a specific number of reps and see yourself feeling accomplished after you’ve finished that specific exercise.
- Compare and despair. That means catch yourself thinking you should or must look like, work out like, lift what others are lifting, run as fast and as long as others are, and challenge those “Who says I should be like them? I’m like me and I begin my workout routine from where I am, just like they did from where they began.”
- Be sure you aren’t viewing one negative attempt as a never-ending pattern of inability for all exercise. Discounting the positive and magnifying the negative will limit your ability to engage in exercise and that will impact your overall physical and mental wellbeing. Emotional reasoning, “I feel like an idiot here at the gym, and so I must be,” is another derailing type of thinking pattern.
- Consider beginning your day by focusing on what can go right and ending your day by recalling a few examples of what did go right, what you did do when it comes to exercise and general physical activity. Create a handful of 3 x 5 cards with inspirational messages that you can look at before you begin to exercise.
Spend time each day engaged in quiet, mindful awareness. Simply spending a few minutes being fully aware of yourself, being present and not thinking ahead of where you are and remaining free of negative judgment in your thoughts will help you be less hard on yourself and improve your self-confidence while enabling you to replace unhelpful, limiting thoughts and achieve your goals.