We wake up each day, you and I, and without even so much as a blink we’ve remembered our names, who we are and most importantly the challenges we carried yesterday. We remember we’re fat, we’re battling with money or our relationships, we remember how unloved we feel, we remember our disdain for ourselves and and and…
And so without a second thought, we’ve begun ‘today’ in the same way we began yesterday and the thousand days before it. And then we wonder why we have the same challenges. We have the same challenges in weight and our body’s not because we have food problems but because we have habit problems. We think the same thoughts everyday, which precipitate the same feelings, which result in the same patterns and habits, which perpetuate the feelings and reinforce the belief.
But what if imagining you’re someone new could help you conjure up new habits?
And what’s more entrench these habits with ease?
The reason I love riding my bicycle so much is the same reason that I love going to gym is the same reason that I love learning Spanish is the same reason that I loved learning to ride a motorbike; because for five minutes or for five hours, or however long it may be, I get to be someone new. For those moments I don’t have to be Lisa who was always the last to finish a race at school or was never given a flower on Valentine’s Day. Instead, I can be Lisa, climbing mountains the of the Tour de France with the pros. Or I can be Lisa, a hardcore chick with a tattoo. Or I can be Spanish Lisa who is gorgeous, wears red lipstick and speaks Spanish perfectly..
The truth is that I discovered these parts of myself mostly through pain, but I’ve begun to realise more and more that we can discover these parts of ourselves through joy.
If I could wave a magic wand and tell you that tomorrow for half the day you could be anyone you wanted to, who would you choose? What would you be doing? Where would you go? What would you wear?
Well you can!
Tomorrow or on the weekend or whenever go do something that the person you wish to be would do. Go see how it feels. Go see what changes.
My mom always told me I could and would never be a professional ballerina and she was right but also I don’t really want to be. She did however also teach me I could do whatever I put my mind to.
Mostly we mistinterpret what it means to put our mind to something…
When told to put our minds to something, most of us think we need to think about forcing ourselves or our bodies to do something. But what if putting our minds to something simply meant that imagining it were possible and furthermore envisioning ourselves achieving it?
Isn’t this what the Olympics is all about?
We love to watch superhumans achieving the unimaginable because in some small way it inspires us to believe that the things we might hope to achieve, like losing a few pounds or just finishing a marathon is possible.
My mother always encouraged me in the face of uncertainty; when my teachers told her that I’d never get through university, she did not tell me what they had said and instead had encouraged me to go and study. Had I known “I’m not supposed to be here” or had I known “I’m not clever enough to pass university” I may never have passed but I did because I believed I was meant to be there.
Thankfully I never had to forget these things because I’d never been told them in the first place. Most of us however have to remember to forget that someone teased us about our weight or that our own minds tell us what is just not possible from moment to moment.
It’s this simple methodology that has helped me power my bicycle over mountains and kilometers I never imagined. And lose over 20kgs over the past decade. And write books. And speak Spanish.
It’s this simple methodology that has helped me unlock the same magic in others.
Seeing is believing
I will never be a professional cyclist. Well, never say never but it’s highly unlikely because I have no desire to be but I frequently close my eyes and imagine that I’m climbing up mountains like Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio; a fellow South African professional cyclist who also lives in Spain in Girona. Then when I’m with my group on the road I just climb out the saddle and imagine that I’m her. And I climb better because for a moment I’ve forgotten I’m Lisa, the girl who wasn’t meant to ride a bicycle, the girl who wasn’t meant to go to university, the girl who wasn’t meant to….
I imagine stepping up on the pedals in a dance and letting the bike rock beneath me as I easily ascend. Of course sometimes, OFTEN, my mind shouts back “sit down, you can’t do this” but I sit down to take a breath or two and then get out the saddle again to climb once more. It doesn’t matter that I’m still relatively slow to Ashleigh herself. What matters is that I’ve climbed more and faster than I ever have in my life. This tells me that there’s something to be said for forgetting I’m Lisa who can’t ride a bike and much to be said for the saying “seeing is believing”.
It’s the same with Spanish. Sometimes I’m so stressed about getting my verbs right and speaking properly but then at other times I forget I’m Lisa and I think I’m Spanish and then I even have a local accent and words come out my mouth which surprise even me.
Who would you want to be if you let yourself go for just a moment? If you forgot all the nonsense inside your head?
What if, tomorrow, you got out of bed on the other side of bed for a change? What if you drove to a different shop instead of the one you always go to? What if you forgot to be angry with yourself? What if you used your other hand to brush your teeth? What if you woke up and before the slurry of thoughts popped into your head, you stopped, you tapped a new belief and you took 30 seconds to imagine who you wanted to be or you jumped out of bed and said “today is my power day”.
You don’t think to yourself I can’t walk, you just do.
What if eating vegetables or dancing or running a marathon or climbing mountains were the same? What if a life without addictions and self hatred was the same? What if you didn’t wake up with the first thought in your head being It’s impossible?
What if everything you imagined was possible because you forgot to tell yourself it wasn’t?
What might happen?Lisa Steingold