“The one thing which you have absolute control over is your own thoughts. It is
this that puts you in a position to control your own destiny.”
–Paul G. Thomas
Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling anxious that your body tightens and your breath is more shallow?
Last week I was officially promoted to Group X Coordinator at Weston Fitness. I am beyond thrilled to be taking on more in the fitness industry and to be infusing my passion for teaching and fitness into a facility that I consider home. But, with this move comes change and though it’s change I want and change I’m excited about, change is scary. In fact, it wasn’t until I took intenSati with Ayanna on Thursday night that I was aware of just how anxious I was. It was only when I took a deep, conscious breath that I felt like I had been waiting to exhale all week. It felt good. And I moved with my breath for the duration of class, but as soon as class ended, as soon as the chanting of positive affirmations commenced, I was back to multitasking and fully aware that my breathing was shallow.
Our breathing mirrors what is going on in our bodies. When we are relaxed and calm, we breathe slowly, evenly and deeply. The moment we become anxious, worried, frightened, stressed or feel threatened in any way our breathing changes becoming uneven, shallow and rapid. But breath is superficial. Breath is only an outside, visible sign of what we’re thinking and feeling. We can change our breath–we can choose to take a deeper inhale or exhale so that we can get ourselves into a more relaxed state to shift our thoughts–but unless we go inside and work from within, we’ll eventually return to the same breath.
The only way to change what we see on the outside is to change the inside paradigm: our thoughts and feelings.
When we’re consumed with anxiety, anger or depression, our thoughts are rampant. In those moments, shifting our thoughts isn’t always an easy task. It’s akin to driving a car at 90mph. At 90mph, if you know you want to change directions and come to a stop, you wouldn’t intentionally slam on your brakes to slow your car down. Not only would you impale the airbag into your face, but your car wouldn’t fully stop; there would still be forward momentum of inertia. Instead, by slowly applying pressure to the brakes, you could bring yourself safely to a stop and take a direction of your choosing. The same is true for our thoughts. When we’re filled with thoughts of “I don’t know how to do this” or “I’m not enough,” saying, “I am enough,” or “It’s all working out,” isn’t likely to instantaneously make us feel better. It’s a start, for sure, but in order to really start to shift the momentum we have to start to apply pressure to the brakes–we have to start to replace our thoughts and keep redirecting them into the ones that feel best. Over and over again until we change the story. When we change the story–when we change our thoughts and our words–we change how we breathe and how we live our life.
For me, I realized that the anxious thoughts surrounding my new position were connected to the low numbers I had in my evening classes last week. Mind you, I subbed several noon classes that were packed, but instead of focusing on that, I chose to focus on the evening classes because they were my classes. It’s summer time and summer time in the gym world is rough. I know this. I also know I am good at what I do. But, even with that knowledge, even with my excitement to jump into this new position, I realized that subconsciously I was telling myself I had to prove I was enough to take on this new role. I let my limiting thoughts take control of my breathing.
Momentum shifts as you change the story. For me, this means simply reminding myself of how good teaching feels and remembering what I love about it. Sure, big classes are fun, but I didn’t get into teaching for numbers. I came into teaching to change lives. At the same time, while numbers are important indicators of what’s working, and while I should look to them as tools for growth, I shouldn’t seek to limit myself by them. In times like this when I need to redirect my thoughts so I can harness the power of my breath, I am reminded of a quote from Paul Thomas: “The one thing which you have absolute control over is your own thoughts. It is this that puts you in a position to control your own destiny.”
Our greatest power is our thoughts. In every moment we have a choice over what thoughts we hold on to and which ones we let go of. And, in order to take on a new, more empowering thought, we must let go of the old, limiting thought that no longer serves us. It’s about directing our thoughts and continually redirecting our thoughts toward how we want to feel. It’s about using our words to tell a story that leaves us feeling empowered. It’s not about doing it all at once or even one time. Shifting our thoughts is a practice. Mastering our mouth is a practice. The moment we change our thoughts, we change our lives and when we’re breathing–really breathing–we’re in control.
You are in the perfect position to get there from here. Change the story. Watch the momentum shift.
What story are YOU telling today?