Yesterday, I was reminded of the power of positive self-talk after seeing a post on my Facebook memories. It was a post about me getting over to Morocco for a multi-day hike. Nothing too spectacular about that you might think, except that when I posted it I was just under a month away from major surgery to remove what had become a life-threatening a brain tumour, and a few days away from the sudden and extremely rare complication of a intra tumoural haemorrhage.
I was about to enter a very dark place; I struggled with everyday tasks we take for granted. Just getting up to go to the bathroom became a mammoth task. Walking to the kitchen to make coffee became fraught with difficulties as by now my balance was so badly affected.
All I had to focus on were my thoughts, and that really could have gone very badly.
When you find yourself struggling, it’s so easy to focus on the negatives. I think what made my ability to visualise even stronger, was that I was able to use the anger I felt about my situation as fuel.
“It’s not what we say out loud that really determines our lives. It’s what we whisper to ourselves that has the most power.”Unknown
I sent off for brochures from adventure travel companies and flicked through them, looking at the beautiful pictures of places I wanted to visit and challenges I wanted to undertake and imagined what it would be like to actually be out there, in a world that was so very different to the one I found myself in at that time.
The most important conversations we have are those we have with ourselves. I watched a ton of Youtube videos about Morocco and think out loud about just how amazing it would be and how I’d be strong, fit and healthy too. Of course, I’d be lying if I said this was an easy process given how very ill I was at that time, but those thoughts and images were never too far away and were all I had to keep me going through the extremely challenging, few weeks that lay ahead, because the alternative didn’t bear thinking about.
“Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.”Buddha
I still use visualisation to help me reach my goals. I imagine how I will feel during a challenging hike, or during a race, the moments of pride and celebration but also how I’ll feel at mile 30 of a 60 mile race. I imagine the fatigue, the pain and the discomfort I’ll be in, but also how I’ll finish feeling strong, so that when I’m competing none of these feelings will take me by surprise and mess with my head!
Self talk and visualisation are two incredibly powerful tools that we all have access to. Don’t be afraid to use them.