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Jo's Story - How I used an affirmation to change my life

Posted: by Jo Friday, 1 October 2021 @ 12:18

I have always collected positive quotes and phrases, long before it became a fashionable, Instagram-able thing to do! At university, quotes and sayings from Oscar Wilde and Baudelaire, through to Coco Chanel, peppered my walls and filled my notepads.

But the discipline of sitting down to write or choose an actual affirmation, to use to change my mindset, is something I only discovered a few years ago.

Let me tell you about one that made a huge impact on me.

I ran the London Marathon in 2016, which I found incredibly hard. But I got through it, with 26 different mantras to occupy my mind as I ran, and the knowledge that I was raising money for Breast Cancer Now keeping me going.

Jo at 2017 London Marathon

The next year, I signed up again – but this time, my mum was very poorly with stage 4 breast cancer.

I found it nearly impossible to train. I would run for a few metres, and then end up stopping as I found myself in tears thinking about Mum. Or I would decide not to even go out running, as I wanted to spend my weekends with my mum instead. Or feel guilty when I did run, as I felt I should be with her.

As the weeks passed, I felt completely out of my depth and totally unprepared for the tough run ahead. My fitness level was terrible, and I couldn’t focus on pushing through the pain to run a long distance, on any of my training runs, as my mind was all over the place. I didn’t think I could even get through the 26 miles; or, if I did, it would take much longer than the 4.5 hours of the year before.

I felt that I would look such a failure, as all my friends simply assumed I’d be fine, as I’d completed it the year before.

So, I sat down, and wrote an affirmation.

I needed something to take all the noise and negativity out of my head. Something positive to focus on instead, that would get me through.

First of all, I wrote, ‘I don’t need to be super-fit. I’m not trying to win the marathon! I just need to be fit enough, fast enough, and focused enough, to get round, and to finish in a reasonable time.’

From that, I pulled out, ‘Fit enough, fast enough, focused enough’. And from that, again, I whittled the words down again, realising I only needed one word.

Mantra Fit enough, fast enough, focused enough

All I needed to do was ‘enough’.

If I could only spare an hour here and there to train – then I’d use it to run on a steep incline on my treadmill, to build my stamina. If I wanted to stay beside Mum’s bedside – I’d do some burpees and star-jumps while she slept, to build my fitness. If I only did one long run before the actual day – it didn’t matter. It would be enough.

All the negative chatter, distracting self-talk and destructive guilt disappeared from my head. Saying that one word to myself, over and over - ‘Enough’ - changed my mindset and got me through. In exactly the same time as the year before, to within 10 seconds!

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