For most of my childhood, I was pretty chubby. My middle school years were spent at the end of the pack during the mile-run and the bottom of the list for the pull-up & push-up contest.
Combine that with being an Egyptian kid with a first name that can be easily made into a girl’s name and you have a formula for getting picked on. My personal favorite was,
“Hey Victoria, what’s your secret?”
[said while mimicking my parents’ Middle Eastern accent]
It became easy to believe that I wasn’t good enough or strong enough to be or do anything great.
The best remedy for me was two-fold:
1. Face the challenge
My mother would regularly tell me to face life’s biggest challenges…to look them right in the face, don’t lose sight of them…and to simply say to myself: I am the greatest. Silly, I know. But the sight of her saying that phrase with gumption is one I’ll never forget. Issis Saad just might have been Muhammad Ali’s biggest fan. It eventually rubbed off onto me.
2. Do the thing
Simply put, actually do the things that I or anyone else thought I couldn’t do.
Eventually, those nudges led me to take up soccer, pick up the saxophone, join theatre, and participate in or lead service trips every summer throughout High School. My confidence began to build and I cared less about what people said.
But as I got older, each new endeavor brought with it a new set of bullies. My goals were lofty and I faced more internal doubts rather than childish name-calling. But there was my mom, helping me identify my challenges and making me say, I am the greatest.
Leaps don’t have to be huge life changes. They can consist of any project to learn or attempt something new. They’re meant to move you beyond your comfort zone, which inevitably means facing a challenge.
I recently learned there is a scientific method to my mother’s sweet madness. It’s called Mental Contrasting and it’s meant to help you visualize success and face your obstacles. It’s relatively simple:
1. Positive. Start by envisioning your Leap. Write down several positive aspects associated with completing it. Hone in on the most important aspects and spend a few minutes visualizing them.
2. Obstacles. Write down the obstacles to achieving your goal. What’s in your way? What might stop you? Hone in and visualize a few of the biggest obstacles.
This works because your subconscious mind operates in the short-term. It’s hard for your mind to really see or feel the long term benefits while in the moment. You have to give it time to actually soak in the positive possibilities of completing your goal.
For example, training for a half-marathon has many long-term health benefits, but your short-term thinking subconscious will try to convince you that you’re pointlessly running in circles and that ice cream is a far superior way to feel immediately satisfied.
You need to lock in those challenging thoughts and counter them by visualizing the healthier, more physically fit version of yourself that’s going to be happier and able to enjoy the activities you love to do.
This technique translates thoughts of success into concrete emotions of motivation.
Know My Challenges
When we made Leap Kit, we included a section called ‘Know My Challenges’ to help you pre-plan for obstacles while you are in a positive mindset. How will you know if you are getting stuck? What’s the first step you might take when you need to work through a challenge?
The bullies are the things trying to convince you that you can’t do it. You have to look them in the eye and face them head on.
So, what is currently holding you back from your Leap? What challenges might you face in the coming days or weeks?
Take some time this week to call those things by a specific name and visualize the specific benefits of completing your Leap. Bonus points if you share those thoughts with someone in your Community of Support. I’d recommend talking to my mom; but she’s busy dealing with me.