"You have to try it sometime!" proclaims the strong, experienced cyclist as the beginner incredulously stares up at a hill she will later learn is a 12 % grade with a 14% finish. Already halfway through a 25-mile ride, she's feeling extremely glad she generously applied the Chamois Lube and is pretty sure there's a "head" wind today no matter which direction they're traveling! Grateful for the water break (as much for the break as for the water,) the hill, at which he is grinning in eager anticipation, looks like Mt. Everest to her.
None-the-less, the "gauntlet" is down.
My new found interest of cycling is proving to be a goldmine of endurance and strength training as well as a wealth of personal insights and gentle reminders. As I stare up at the daunting task before me, I hear myself say, "I don't think I can do that. No, actually, I'm sure I can't do it."
"You can do it," my partner says, leveling a hard, direct look at me. "You can stop and rest. You can serpentine, like we practiced. You can walk it part of the way. But you CAN do it. Or... I guess you could go the long way around and I'll just wait for you on the other side." Subtle. Very subtle.
"Alright. But you go and don't look back. I'll do it in my own way, in my own time."
Fair enough. "See you at the top!"
Okay. I can do this. Pedal. Push. Shift. Breathe. Pedal. Push. Thighs burn, the heart pumps and internally my mind screams, "Don't quit! Don't you dare quit! Do not stop peddling this bike!"... which dissolves quickly into "I can't do this. I'm just not strong enough." And, I don't. I come to a complete stop (which, note to self, is just about the worst thing you can do on a steep grade!)
As I stand there, chest heaving, lungs on fire, sweat pouring... I search for something to help me finish this enormous, ridiculous task. And luckily, with the oxygenation of my blood comes the oxygenation of my brain and I remember Reverse Thinking.
Reverse Thinking works on this principle: The mind doesn't know the difference between a truth and a lie. It only sees the movie you play before it and believes that image is real, is the truth, and is happening now. Your body then has a physiological reaction to the power of and belief in that image. So when I say or think, "Don't quit," my mind sees "quit" and my body dutifully responds. But when I flip it and say, "Keep going," my mind sees "going" and my body also responds to that command.
Reverse Thinking is flipping what you are currently thinking on its head and restating it in a way that allows possibility and paints a positive mental image for your mind to transfer to your body. It's a simple but powerful shift. It shifts from "Don't do something" to "Do something." "Can't do something" to "what you can or could do."
"Don't stop pedaling." becomes "Keep going."
"I'm only halfway." becomes "You are so close now."
"There's so much more to go." Becomes "You're almost there!"
Instead of "I can't do it. It can't be done." Reverse thinking says, "I'm mastering it."
Even "I just haven't found a way... yet." Is better than "I can't."
This week, as you hear yourself state something is not possible or has no answer, that people (or the world) will never change, or find yourself struggling with something and wanting to quit... remember Reverse Thinking. Flip those thoughts and statements on their heads and reverse them into positive statements rich with possibility.
And by the way... I still had to stop two more times up that hill but I did finally make it to the top and the look back down was worth every push. Reverse or possibility thinking won't magically give you muscles or money or talent but I'm positive I went a little further and a little longer on the last two attempts utilizing Reverse Thinking skills. It's all about getting a little more out of ourselves than we would otherwise. The game really is about creating more and more and more possibility for ourselves at every turn. Possibilities, options, ideas, improved skills and strength that others will likely call gifts, favoritism, or just plain luck.
But you know better.