I had a scripted childhood. My parents wrote us “scripts” for everything.. answering the phone, being introduced to adults, politely declining food at my gramma’s house, what to say to the one parent if I preferred that the other one put me to bed, what to say when someone at a birthday party opened a present I had been dying to have, how to pray before a meal, how to pray before bed, what to say to my friend’s parents after I ate dinner at their house, what to say to an authoritative figure who I believed was wrong (that one is pretty good actually). There were scripts for everything. I can see why my parents did that.. they didn’t want us yelling obscenities into the phone or being rude when we were suddenly in a strange or somewhat demanding situation. They wanted us to be prepared and so they gave us lines to learn and we politely recited them at the right time… most of the time.
That being said, and maybe this is a subconscious rebellion against the scripting of my childhood but I’ve never really been into mantras or key words or special phrases or affirmations. I’m not a huge fan of meaningful inspirational quotes or cutsie sayings. It just seems a little touchy feely and I’d much rather get out there and do something about it than sit around chanting my thoughts. However, I’m starting to think that maybe I should be a little more open-minded because really.. mantras, phrases, motivational quotes, power words.. they are just scripts for grownups. And sometimes.. when I’m standing at the lunch buffet or running around a park at 5 in the morning, it’s nice to know that I’m not going to scream and shout cuss words or curl up along the side of the road in a messy heap of self-loathing.
So what I think I need to do is write a new script.
I started thinking this because up until this point my inner health-related script was more along the lines of: “This is bad but diet starts Monday” or “Ten more minutes on the elliptical and I’m so ordering an extra large pad thai”. Not entirely helpful in the long run. I’m starting to realise how vital it is for me to have my head filled with powerful phrases. No, I’m not running around saying super schmaltzy things.. well not most of the time I’m not, but I do like to have a few significant things going on in there. (insert blonde joke) Seriously, I’m realising how important it is for my brain to have something to revert back to or make sense of or grab onto or play over and over.. especially during the difficult times.
This morning I typed some sort of semi-motivational thing on MFP along the lines of having a week filled with “7 healthy days”. Writing that out ended up helping me say no to a chocolate muffin at 10am because.. well that wouldn’t be a “healthy day” sort of thing. I want 7 healthy ones… (days not muffins). The thing is that it was funny because that little phrase just popped into my head right when I was about to pick up the dangerous treat and made it easier to say no.
It helps to have a few ideas or thoughts or phrases in our heads that we can go to in moments of physical or mental weakness. I find this is especially true when it comes to working out. It is so easy to be too kind or easy on our bodies and let ourselves have undeserved breaks and unearned rest days. It’s easy to justify breaking a run and walking just a little longer because our legs ache or not doing push ups until we collapse because our arms kind of hurt. It’s all too easy to talk ourselves into staying on the couch with blankets because if we go outside our skin might get wet.
During weak moments.. that’s when we need help from powerful words swimming in our brains.
Maybe you like the famous quotes about needing to give 110% or living each day like it was your last (although why would I spend my last day on earth at the gym?) or Philippians 4:13 or “a year from now you’ll wish you had started today” or “that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” (thank you Nietzsche and Kelly Clarkson) or “I’m gonna show you how great I am”.. or something to the tune of Eye of the Tiger.
Maybe the big flashy quotes don’t do it for you and you go for more mundane things like: “I need to look super hot in July” or “if you run faster then you’ll be able to lie on the living room floor for 5 minutes” or “True happiness is not found in cupcakes” (which I’m still not 100% convinced is true).
Or maybe the workout is taking everything out of you and you can only manage to grunt a few key words, primate style: “Hot” or “Stronger” or “Poison” or “No” or “MUSCLES!!!”
Whatever is going on with you and your workouts and/or food choices.. it’s highly helpful to fill your head with thoughts that get you through the struggles and temptations and back to the good place… the land of 1% semi-skimmed milk and raw honey.
Maybe you are the more abusive type who likes to call yourself a Fatty McLardass as you huff and puff around the block or maybe you take the more loving approach and tell yourself that you’re just running bravely down the path toward Beautiful.. whatever it is.. it’s important what you are.. what I am…what we are telling ourselves. I do believe that a large part of our success depends upon it.
So write a script. Tailor it to fit your needs. You know when you’re at your weakest and you know what you need to hear. Write it down somewhere, memorise it and one day you’ll be happy to have such nice or harsh or “abusive” or “motivational” or just downright inspirational and healthy things popping into your pretty little head.