“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Marcus Aurelius
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” Mahatma Gandhi
Many years ago, a client told me about the latest phenomenon referred to as “The Secret.” Apparently, quantum physicists, psychologists and other helping professionals gathered together and determined that thoughts, positive or negative, could effect one’s health and well being throughout life. These professionals pulled together reflections from great sages which discussed the profound impact of one’s views and self perceptions. Now, I am a believer in the mystical, universal energy and a higher power. With that said, I am a skeptic when it comes to magical thinking. I have met many people who were very positive, and yet, died from horrible illnesses. I have also heard of a few negative and rather shady characters who escaped illness, retribution and managed to live long lives. Initially, I viewed “The Secret” as the latest marketing ploy of packaging a wishful-thinking message to a naive public in search of a magical panacea. Consequently, I purchased the book so I could either confirm or dispel my conclusions.
After reading parts of The Secret, I decided I was correct about some of my deductions. Yes, there were some parts which exuded a sense of unrealistic expectations, but on further examination, I realized that the message one could take away is the idea of remaining positive. Although there are no guarantees, what does one have to lose? In fact, sometimes, mind over matter does work. Look at all of the successful people including the professional athletes. These sports players regularly face large audiences of fans cheering and booing them while they manage to stay focused and perform often spectacularly. You would probably say they are gifted and lucky. Yes, for some, that is the case. It doesn’t take much for those fortunate few because they have honed their natural athletic prowess to Olympian stature but not every professional athlete is the same. Although quite talented, some individuals have to work extra diligently to perform in the same arena as their exceptional peers. To maintain momentum and complete the recipe, the ingredients of practice, perseverance and positive messaging are necessary.
Remember the Olympic speed skater Dan Jansen? He overcame personal tragedy and failed attempts to finally win the gold medal. Along with hard work and perseverance, Mr. Jansen worked with someone like me to develop positive visualization and messaging. For two years, this professional had Mr. Jansen write every night “I love the 1,000. I love the 1,000.” This particular mantra was helpful because the 1000 was not his favorite race. Lo and behold, Mr. Jansen eventually captured the gold.
Positive visualization and messaging is not only helpful in the sports ring. It can be applied to just about any segment of life including those which seem almost impossible. The magnificent and magnanimous Oprah Winfrey overcame abuse and trauma by trusting something greater than herself. The hiker Aron Ralston had an epiphany and managed to escape death by performing an extraordinary and painful feat. I know someone personally who became paralyzed as an adolescent. She went back to school, graduated and went on to acquire Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. This valiant young woman upholds a positive outlook and retains the belief she will be able to walk again. She informs me that regardless of the future she will continue positive messaging because it keeps her believing, achieving and being open to the possibilities. It is something we should all persist on doing.
For those who doubt the impact of positive visualization and affirmations in relation to peak performance, I suggest you research all of the people who have accomplished above and beyond. It is my firm belief you will discover there is an internalized positive outlook, image or message rooted within them. You might even begin to say what about me? Yes, what about you? By asking that question, you are beginning to think positively. If you have difficulty sustaining this nascent belief, contact me! I will do my best to help you develop a positive image and message, and pleasantly, you will recognize it is not such a secret!
References and Suggested Readings:
Byrne, R. (2006). The Secret. New York: Atria Books.
Vecsey, G. (1994, February 19). Sports of The Times; Dan Jansen Finally Finds Himself Off ‘Hold.’ The New York Times.