Beliefs about Yourself

A saying that I’ve heard repeated many times is: our thoughts create our reality. For a long time, this was one of those sayings that, for me, sounded nice, but maybe a little over the top. It made logical sense- if you are constantly thinking negatively and feeling sorry for yourself, not a whole lot of good comes from that. I know that when I’ve gotten down on myself for any extended period of time, it became increasingly easier to find the negative in things outside of myself. All of this can add up to stress, anxiety, and/or depression. This is the basic understanding that I had of this saying. Recently, it’s come to my attention just how accurate it really is.

Stuckness comes from cycles of thought. This is how the cycle often goes: we want to change something in our life, we start the process of initiating change, then there’s an obstacle. The blockage can be external or in internal. When we, say, come across the external obstacle, what is our approach? Do we take it as a sign that change will never happen? It’s too much to tackle? Why? What are our beliefs about ourselves that makes us think that the obstacle cannot be overcome? I know that for me, it has sometimes taken just a minor challenge that causes me to doubt the path I had my eyes on in the first place. Why? Is it supposed to happen effortlessly? Even if I got to where I wanted, I might change my mind about it after all of that effort. So, why even try? Or, if it’s a financial cost, why aren’t you worth investing in? Will you really never be able to pay for it? These are just a few examples of how stuckness can present, and how challenges cause certain beliefs about ourselves to come up, which can set us back to square one. It can take a lot of reflection to even realize that you have been repeating a pattern. What can break this cycle? What can get us past what feels like a dead end? You have to first recognize what beliefs come up, then do something different from your normal pattern!

When you believe certain thoughts about yourself, behaviors manifest. Sometimes, it’s a non-doing, sometimes, it’s the way you interact with those around you. Maybe you can see where I’m going with this. When someone doesn’t believe they deserve something, do they usually go about life attracting that thing? Probably not. A person needs to believe that they are deserving, because that breaks the cycle. Sometimes, it can be really hard to actually believe. That’s where faking it until you make it can come in. There is still real action in the faking. Once one acts in ways that indicates that they deserve their aspiration, things will happen. If a person once avoided job applications because they didn’t think they deserved a job that they would enjoy, they may have thought that there was someone more qualified, more hardworking, etc. Once they changed the way they showed up and behaved in a way that was self-assured, they probably saw more jobs that they could qualify for, and, of course, applied- with confidence in their cover letters to boot.

Our thoughts determine what we actually achieve. If we continue with a dead-end cycle, it constantly proves that we cannot trust in ourselves, that we cannot follow through and get what we really want. Perseverance is key. One day at a time.

The most relevant experience that I can speak from is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2019. I had originally thought that I would hike the trail in 2018, but because I didn’t actively commit to the dream, nothing happened. I kept waiting to see if something would just happen for me, but I needed to be the one to make it happen. It wasn’t going to just all easily fall into place. What made it happen in 2019 was telling myself that I was actually going to hike the PCT for 5 months, starting in April of 2019. So, anything that came up after August 2018 (when I made the decision to commit) had to keep in mind my plan. Then, the time actually came to do the trail. My persistence and perseverance with hiking every day, one step at a time, one day at a time, is what got me to achieving my dream.

If I had treated hiking the PCT like I have treated other goals that I’ve pursued, I wouldn’t have made it. The first thing that was different was that I decided this experience would be valuable enough to me to invest in for myself. It was not cheap to buy gear, food, and all of the expenses that added up along the way- like hotels, gear repair/replacements, town food, etc. It did create some debt when all was said and done. Do I regret it because of that? Not one bit. Do I regret putting my other goals on hold? No. Another thing that I didn’t do was say, “I’m not even halfway yet, or anywhere close to my goal. I might as well give up.” It’s completely silly to think of doing that. Of course, if I had thought like that, I would never have finished the trail. My other goals may not be as tactile and literal as making it from Point A to Point B, but the same concept applies. If I’m not willing to invest, if I’m not willing to put in the work every day to eventually- oftentimes, slowly- make it to my goal, I’ll never get there. Remember: have faith in the process. It is essential.

This concept of thoughts creating our reality applies to everything! A fantastic resource and place for inspiration is the Facebook Page “TOTAL BODY CONFIDENCE“, which was created by a team of people I love and respect so much. One thing I know for sure about changing anything in my life, is that it starts with my mindset and not losing momentum. Surrounding myself with other people who care about growth and self-improvement has played a key role in steering me in the right direction, reminding me of my motivation, and inspiring me to live out my potential. The page I mention above is a great community for that.

Now, I hope I’ve inspired someone out there. I know that just by writing this, I’ve inspired myself! Figure out your goals, start working towards them, and then, don’t let anything stop you. If you fall, pick yourself back up. Don’t let your own head get in the way.

 

Momentum Takes Consistency

Continued momentum… This is an idea that was articulated by a friend of mine on trail, Spicybite. He and I were talking on trail one day about our pre-trail lives and what we wanted after trail. He mentioned that he wanted to continue the momentum that the trail gave him, and that he would need to keep that in mind pretty much as soon as he got back home so that he wouldn’t fall into the enticing comfort of going back to how things were. I knew that it was one of the reasons that I wanted to hike the trail in the first place- to have momentum in my life, and one of my goals was to continue with that momentum when I got home.

One of the beauties of trail life was the simplicity and freedom of every day. We woke up, ate, walked, ate, walked some more, ate, set up camp, ate some more, and went to sleep. All of that and some conversation with friends (or oneself) sprinkled in, plus, maybe some music, podcasts, or an audiobook to spice it up. The objective was clear everyday: keep walking and stay alive. For me, it wasn’t really until toward the end of the trail that I came to terms with the fact that it was going to end, and I started to daydream about the stability of everyday life back home and having a warm and cozy house to snuggle up in during the cold and rainy days.

Winter is hard in the Pacific Northwest. Seasonal depression kicks in… and top that with intermittent post-trail depression. Keeping that momentum going has been especially challenging in the winter. What I’m finding is that if I at least keep that goal of momentum in my mind, it is really helpful in pulling me out of a funk. In order to level up in my life, I need to be challenged by something. So, instead of asking myself, “Why is this happening to me (whatever “this” may be)?”, I ask, “Why is this happening FOR me?” I got this beautiful idea from someone named Brittany Taylor (check her out!). Another important thing to keep me moving forward is to surround myself with people who challenge me as well as support me. I’ve come to realize that the people who have stayed in my life didn’t just happen by chance. They are people who I subconsciously decided to keep in touch with, because I felt accepted, supported, and challenged by them.

I am currently in an interesting in-between phase, where I feel like there is forward progress, but it’s going slowly. It’s like when you start pushing a heavy object and it feels like it’s barely budging, then, it starts gaining more and more momentum. As long as you keep pushing. That’s the main thing I’m learning: consistency is key. Don’t give up and don’t stop pushing. Don’t make the challenge so hard at first that it feels like you’re pushing up a giant hill. Start out with sustainable changes, then, once you gain some momentum, you can handle that hill. It’s like the trail: one step at a time, one mountain at a time, one day at a time. If you stick with it, you’ll get to where you want to go.