While I was racing I did some crazy mental training. Hours upon hours of affirmations. Up Topanga Canyon, down Tuna, up Latigo, down Kanan Dune, up the PCH, up Mulholland, down Encinal and finally back through Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice and finishing on the Ballona Creek bike path into Culver City. All the time listening to tracks off The Ultimate Cyclist CD and repeating the affirmations to myself out loud and with conviction.
With powerful pronouncements running through my head such as:
I am at one with my bike, a smooth powerful efficient machine.
I am relaxed, confident and powerful whenever I ride my bike.
I had some great days of racing. Days where everything just seemed to flow.
Affirmations are the cornerstone of any mental training program. We all have thought patterns that have a powerful effect on how we perceive ourselves and our lives. Words and phrases that go through our minds so often that we don't even notice them. Most people have a combination of positive and negative thoughts but in my experience, the negative thoughts can often overshadow and dampen the positive ones, holding us back from an immeasurable potential that only a very select few ever get to realize.
When the deepest darkest parts of your brain believe that something is impossible then that impossibility becomes a truth as factual as gravity.
The professional bike racer has an unfair advantage over the common cyclist in that he has endless hours to practice and hone his mental game, utilizing not just affirmations but visualization, breathing and meditation. And this is not a small advantage. This stuff really works. It's more powerful than most people could even imagine.
Inside My Head
Now back to me. While training for my most important events, I had the mental thing down. I was confident and relaxed whenever I rode my bike. But now as a civilian, I didn't have those endless hours to devote to mental training and to be quite honest, I don't have the discipline that this type of training requires. Without a specific competitions or event to focus on I was floundering.
So I began to shift my focus towards the things that I think we all are looking for and believe we have room to improve upon. A general confidence and contentment in life, relationships, career and in athletic endeavors. Having spent so much time spelunking into my own mind I was extremely aware of the negative thought patterns that were holding me back and I also knew that with the right program I could make improvements and possibly break through a few barriers that have been holding me back through my entire adult life. But as I settled into civilian life, I realized that I didn't have a formula for this.
So here's what I came up with. In the heart of every Ultimate Psychology hypnosis CD there are a series of affirmations. I did a little audio editing and extracted just this central part of the track. Next I loaded it onto my iPhone. Then I plugged in my ear buds and began to listen.
I listen throughout the day while I work, wash dishes, drive to pick up the kids, etc. I still listen to the whole hypnosis track at night including the induction, progressive relaxation, visualization and affirmations but during my conscious hours I focus solely on the affirmations.
Right away I started to see significant shifts. I'm not going to delve too deeply into these as they are somewhat personal to me but let's just say it was a swing into a more positive sense of self which is the key to success and happiness in all aspects of our lives.
So this is my prescription. Create some positive affirmations for yourself that directly address your issues that you identify as unhelpful and detrimental. Make a recording of yourself saying the affirmations and load it on to your music device. Listen as often as possible and try to spend at least 30 minutes a day actively listening meaning following along out loud with the track.
For instance, one of my affirmations (taken directly from Ultimate's Happiness and Self Esteem CD) is:
You continue to stay more relaxed at all times.
As that affirmation is repeated in my ear I say.
I continue to remain more relaxed at all times.
And that's all there is to it.Search for a cycling event.