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7 habits of highly healthy people part 1: Develop positive self talk

This article title is of course a spin off from the book by Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The book is a fantastic read and has had a big influence on how I live my life. If you haven’t read it yet, consider it a must – read.

So you want to be healthier. You want to have bounds of energy, to be fit and agile, to feel fresh and alert, to have focus and drive, to stay free from disease and to be… happy. That, my friends, is living the dream. If you so decide, that dream can become reality.

“The way to develop decisiveness is to start right where you are with the very next question you face.” – Napoleon Hill.

I base my wellness coaching on a model known as the triad of health. This is a balance of mental, chemical and structural health. Embracing these 7 habits will help you to progress in each of these elements of health.

A word of warning…

Being healthy is a lifestyle choice. Health is not something you can achieve on a part – time basis. Carrying a ‘health club’ card does not qualify you to be healthy. Doing a 3 – day detox does not qualify you to be healthy. Working yourself into the ground and then booking a fortnight’s holiday does not qualify you to be healthy. Healthy people have healthy habits that they live on a daily basis. This does not mean that they don’t indulge in some of the more unhealthy habits that others enjoy, but rather they don’t make a habit of it. They create a balance of good and bad behaviours which have a net effect of promoting health.

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” – Samuel Johnson.

Habit 1: Develop positive self – talk

Healthy people have the ability to talk themselves into making healthy choices. The ability to change comes from within. You are influenced by external factors but ultimately you control your thoughts and your thoughts control your actions.

Although we don’t talk about it much, we all talk to ourselves. All of us have a little voice in our heads, if you’re alone it may even come out of your mouth: this is your self – talk. In my experience of coaching people I’ve discovered that on the whole self talk is negative. Have you ever caught yourself talking internally and saying things like:

“I could never do that”. “It’s not for me”.
“I’m not good enough”.
“I can’t”.

These thoughts immediately limit your actions and therefore the outcome. Having positive self – talk has the exact opposite effect and you can train yourself to think phrases like:

“I can definitely do this if put my mind to it”.
“I could get into that”
“I’ve got this”
“I can”

These thoughts open your mindset and give you confidence in your ability, belief that you can achieve, and empower you to take positive action to do so.

Growing up, I competed in amateur boxing and I believe that the sport taught me the power of positive self – talk. As a fighter, if you don’t believe you have the ability to win, then you have lost the fight before it has begun. My self – talk leading up to a fight had to be very positive, internal pep talks whilst sitting on the stool between rounds were also the difference between walking away with a trophy or a lie down on the canvas. Self doubt always crept in of course, but experience taught me that any self doubt was to be immediately countered by reinforcing positive self belief. Even today I find running a challenge and whilst on the move I often hear the little voice say “I need to stop”, but I can immediately counter that and say “you’re better than that, finish the job!”

Even if you don’t believe your positive self talk to begin with if you repeat it to yourself often enough your belief will start to change. As a teenager I was inspired to do this by a very influential sportsman that said:

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” – Mohammed Ali.

A few years ago I went to see a gentlemen called Pete Cohen deliver a seminar on behaviour change. Pete had a great outlook on self – talk and referred to all negative talk as ‘the duck’. His strategy was every time you experience negative self – talk you repeat ‘shut the duck up!’ Pete’s book titled ‘Sort Your Life Out’ is a good read if you are thinking about change. I for one was happy to adopt his ‘shut the duck up’ strategy.

Everyone has an element of self doubt and experiences negative self talk. However healthy people have a habit of overriding that negativity and talking themselves into positive thoughts which create the positive actions they need to make health a habit. If you need help with this a good wellness coach can be a strong positive influence.

So the next time you’re debating whether or not to go to the gym, whether you deserve that beer, if you’re dismissing something that’s too difficult or convincing yourself you look dreadful in that outfit, remember that you have a choice and the decision you make creates the life you choose to lead.

“Just do it! First you make your habits, then your habits make you!” – Lucas Remmerswaal.

Stay tuned for the rest in this series of articles and feel free to share them with others you feel may benefit.


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