Updated: Apr 12, 2021
Anna Lancaster Hedman is the director of Anna Lancaster Therapy in London.
When wellness guru, Jay Shetty, interviewed Big Sean, for his podcast, I was struck by a comment the rap artist made: ‘You don’t GOT to do this; you GET to do this'.
There are so many times when we take a negative stance rather than appreciating an opportunity and feeling positive gratitude; we let it weigh us down or stress us out, which results in feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and often incapable.
How do you remedy this?
The answer to this is so simple; you remedy this with your mindset. In today’s turbulent climate and post-pandemic dawn, wherein so many things are out of our control, the one thing you can control is your thoughts. You can control how you act and how you react to things…. This is your superpower!
Your brain is there for one purpose only; to keep you alive. It is hardwired for survival. It can take you towards pleasure, but ultimately its drive is to take you away from pain because the pain in your mind’s eye could lead to death.
‘You don’t GOT to do that work,
you GET to do it.’
To explain this, let’s look at the three foundational rules of the mind as outlined by pioneering therapist Marisa Peer.
1. Your mind does exactly what it thinks you want it to do.
So, when you are saying, ‘This essay is killing me’, or ‘I would rather die than stand up in front of my class and do a presentation', your brilliant mind realises that, to you, this causes pain. It will do anything to keep you away from it; from procrastinating thoughts, to sweating and stammering when you get up on stage, to causing your body to suffer a migraine or catch a cold. It listens and reacts to protect you and keep you as far away from that pain as possible. So instead, collaborate with your mind. Choose to link these thoughts to extreme pleasure and tell your mind that you want to do them. Say ‘I love getting up in front of the class’ and tell your mind how much you want to do it.
'Collaborate with your mind.'
An example of this is the Marines, who sing as they run up muddy mountains in the rain. Singing sends a message to their brains that they love doing this; it links this activity with pleasure and gets them through the intense, hardcore training. You choose what to link pain and pleasure to and making the right choices makes you successful. As you say ‘I love studying for my exams; there is nowhere else I would rather be’, that quickly becomes your reality. Once you know how, you can run your mind instead of letting it run you. It also helps to remind yourself that your problem, writing the essay or studying to get into University, is someone else’s dream come true and they would love to be in your position.
2. Your mind responds to the pictures you make in your head and the words that you say to yourself.
The way you feel about any situation comes down to two things: the images you create in your mind and the words you tell yourself. If the words and pictures you have are positive then you feel positive about the situation. But guess what? If you feed your mind negativity then the outcome will be just that. You react to your own thoughts and images, so choose to tell your mind words that move you towards success. Instead of saying ‘It’s impossible to do this essay’, change it to ‘It’s going to take some time, but I know I can do this essay’. Using words that are less intense makes your feelings and reactions less intense and allows you to feel more in control of a situation.
Can you imagine a friend who continually told you that you were stupid for saying the wrong thing in class, or you looked terrible that morning, who berated you for putting on a bit of weight or called you an idiot for being late? They wouldn’t be your friend for very long I would guess? However, we are our own toughest critics and if we are continually telling ourselves these negative things, it should come as no surprise that our brain responds accordingly. Instead, change the words to less harsh ones; okay, you were late, but that doesn’t make you an idiot. Be kinder to yourself. Our words become our reality and our brain uses the words we tell it to identify what we are feeling. Your brain takes every word you say as literal and accurate. Choose positive words and the resulting feelings will also be positive. Tell yourself everything ahead is manageable, and that you have phenomenal coping skills. The words and images you use will put you in charge and make you feel good and capable.
3. Your mind is hardwired to move towards what is familiar
Your mind is wired to seek out and return to what is familiar; familiar is considered safe; and, as we learned, the mind is adapted to help you survive. It’s why, as a child, you could watch the same film over and over, and why children often like to eat the same foods. To succeed, you make negative thoughts unfamiliar and positive things, even those out of your comfort zone, familiar. You make praise and self-praise familiar as it dramatically boosts your self-esteem. You can make familiar such things as self-discipline, self-belief and regular exercise; and you can make unfamiliar self-criticism, procrastination, negative language and putting yourself down. You will start to feel better, act better and, ultimately, get better results.
So, collaborate with your mind, tell it good thoughts, make self-praise familiar and overtly-harsh self-criticism unfamiliar. When tackling challenging situations adopt a positive mindset.
Remember…you don’t GOT to do this; you GET to do this.