Believing is Seeing

“We do not see with our eyes. We see with our brains. What we see is only what our brain tells us we see, and it’s not 100 percent accurate.” — John Medina, Brain Rules

Breaking into the bodybuilding world is no easy feat. Not only will you face physical challenges on a daily basis, but you will also face mental challenges that will try to stop you along the way. These mental roadblocks can come from outside factors and from your internal self talk. We have all heard that the mind is a powerful thing and it will want to give up before the body does. This statement is true almost 100% of the time. When your mind is telling you you’re tired, you can actually continue for a lot longer. Mental toughness can make or break your success in the fitness industry or in everyday life.

Here’s the reality—many times, more often than not, we see what we’ve already decided we’ll see. In other words, believing is seeing. This may seem confusing so let me break it down a little more. If you’re looking for reasons why you’ll get a bad outcome, you’ll likely read everything through that lens. If you believe you’re going to succeed and that you’re going to have a great outcome, you’ll look at everything through that lens.

In the book Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, Ori and Rom Brafman write about the effects of pre-existing beliefs and how they affect our ongoing belief patterns, even when confronted with new information to the contrary. They describe an experiment given to students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that illustrates this principle. A guest teacher gave 70 students a page-long detailed biography of his accomplishments and were instructed to review it before listening to the lecture. Half of the students had a bio that stated the guest teacher was “a very warm person and he was very likable,” while the other half had a bio that stated he was “rather cold.” When asked to give feedback, students who received the “warm person” bio wrote that the teacher was great. Those who received the “rather cold” bio wrote that the teacher was self-centered, rigid, inflexible, and boring. All 70 students sat through the same class at the exact same time. So why were the reviews so vastly different? It’s because the students saw what they already believed to be true.

After hearing of this study, Andy Jenkins, a motivational speaker, wanted to put this theory to the test. He took his kids to the pool and told them he had a challenge for them. He asked them to count how many blue things they could find within 5 seconds. After 5 seconds, he asked how many green things they had counted. The children all said that they were counting blue items and tried to tell him how many of those they found. Once again, Andy reminded his kids that he was asking for the number of green items. After a couple moments, they said “none.” “None?” Andy asked. “There is grass, trees, flowers, plants and bushes everywhere.” The children said that they didn’t see those because they weren’t looking for blue items. Finally, Andy explained to them that they only found blue because that’s exactly what they were looking for, even though there was more green all around them.

People who fail to achieve their fitness dreams or goals usually look for reasons to prove their poor results. Do these sound familiar?

• It’s too hard
• I’m too old/young
• I’m not strong enough
• I’m too little/big
• I’m not talented enough
• My genetics are holding me back
• I don’t have time
• It’s too late to start
• Someone said I couldn’t do it
• I’m too fat/small

Once you’re set on achieving a goal, your mind will subconsciously kick into over-drive, scanning everything for hints and clues to back up what you’ve already determined to be true. This will become the filter through which you view your reality. So, you will either look for a million reasons why you will fail, or you won’t see any obstacles that you can’t overcome in your quest for success.

Check your perceived reality each and every day—only you have the power to determine what you see. Are you looking for reasons to succeed or are you looking for excuses to fail? Don’t let outside noises alter your perception either. These people are not living your life and they are certainly not trying to realize your dreams. Work on you and work on making sure the filter you are looking through is positive.