The Power of Thinking & Feeling

Thinking and feeling. A few weeks back I saw a TV programme called Dead Man Walking on BBC2 Scotland, for me it was about thinking and feeling.

David Smith

David Smith BBC Programme

It was the story of gold medal-winning Paralympian David Smith and his journey with cancer. David has faced many struggles in his life, born with club feet he went on to become a professional karate champion, athlete, bobsleigh brakeman, rower and now a cyclist.

He had beaten spine cancer before, but the disease had returned, we got to follow his treatment and subsequent return to fitness, a battle for his life and career.

It occurs to me that we see athletes like beings at the pinnacle of dedication to their bodies and performance. It is hard to see the parallel between the athlete and his sport to the entrepreneur and his business. However, the programme was an insight into a world; that is more similar than you might think.

Taking aside the pain and physical differences, the key similarity is belief and the power of thought because nothing gets done without it. David’s key challenge was laying in bed following the operation and really knowing that he would be able to move his body again. It was all about getting his head right. At each stage of his recovery, he got his head in the right place, and his body followed.

Getting the head right

As a marketing coach, this is not something that I talk about much, and yet it does come up. Both in client meetings and in my experience of just doing the work for myself. We have all heard the quote:

” If you think you can you can
and if you think you can’t you’re right.”

If we know this then why do so many of us use negative self-talk in conversation. I have noted in myself the use of negative sarcasm when commenting on the positive. “ It may be sunny now, but you watch out it will rain later.” Not that my thinking can affect the weather, but it does reflect the sensitivity of my well-being to an external event. I have come to see this as a defence; it is like we are building in defeat so we can feel better when the outcome we would like does not happen.

We would not expect an athlete to use negative words about themselves or their performance. The sports world has known the power of the mind for 50 years. It has only just started to make an appearance in everyday life. Mindfulness CBT, NLP, EFT and meditation are all techniques that can be used to get control of the head. To my mind, these techniques are half the story

I have worked with my head and thoughts for many years, my thinking and it can be a creative monster. It can tell me all sorts of bad stories that do not make me feel good about myself. I have discovered, given that I do not live in a war zone, that the reality is rarely that bad. I know from experience that everything works better if I believe it will.

The point is as an entrepreneur we have to put ourselves on the line, and that takes confidence, and it has to come from somewhere. Public speaking at the front of a room of men in dark suits required me to take a few deep breaths. In my experience, I did not die, and they liked me.

What works.

Understand those thoughts and feeling are connected, they work in both directions. Negative thoughts lead to negative feelings, and the opposite is also true. Good thoughts lead to good feelings.

Test this for yourself, observer you own thoughts, and the feelings attached, try to remember a happy experience from your childhood.

Do it now.

Did you notice the connection, it may not have worked just now, but do try this out for yourself.

The missing piece and going to the next level.

Thinking good thoughts and having positive feelings is only half the story, what has worked for me is removing the fear of failure. I have heard various people speak to this; some say fail quickly and move on. Others say there is no failure just feedback.

Just as success brings the rush of endorphin, failure, when we have invested so much, can be a crushing blow. Using the above ideas you can dust yourself down and move on, the point is unless failure means the end of your life, there will always be something that follows, you will always move on

The practice of non-attachment

I use non-attachment, I have learned that the reality of something not going as I wanted, means I live on to try something else. It often brings new fresh opportunity. I will not pretend that I have no attachments because I do, my family, friends some possessions. I have just found a way of holding the outcome and accepting whatever it is.

Achieving a place of non- attachment can be deep work and difficult to explain in words; it is hard to describe, but it is a skill I urge you to cultivate as with it comes the freedom of action and life without fear.

Going back to David’s situation he was very attached and driven by his outcomes and he was facing a life or death situation. He is an inspiration, within six months of his neck operation to remove the tumor on his spine he cycled Mont Ventoux, three times in one day.

Sitting at the top at the end of this amazing ride. He reflected that most people with his cancer would be resting in a chair while he was resting at the top of a mountain.

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