One of the more difficult aspects of adopting a consistent mental training regimen is being able to identify and acknowledge the numerous ways in which one has been already training negative mental practices. It’s actually the cliche that “the subject has to want to change” in order for any positive training to take place at all.
Take for instance the fact of conscious mental training by itself. I have attempted to adopt practices before and usually gave up really quickly because I didn’t feel that it meant anything to me, drawing graphs or circle charts with short term and long term goals felt silly, and then when I didn’t focus on mental training in the way that I felt I should I’d chastise myself for failing even that – which is obviously practicing negativity.
But it’s like this: drinking water before training can make your training significantly better by keeping you hydrated while you’re working hard. Forgetting to drink water is met with a neutral mind: I should remember to drink water next time as I have noted the difference it made in my training when I do. Not so much “wow, I’m such an asshole for not remembering to drink water before training. Way to fail again.” That’s just ridiculous. So it should be with mental training – it requires a lot more effort than remembering to drink water, but forgetting or not having the best day of it should be met with a “I’ll do better next time” attitude, rather than one of criticism and defeat.
I’m a lady who likes discipline. I like rules, I like numbers and measurables and I push myself hard in training. I recognize lack of discipline in others as a serious weakness and work to create disparity between myself and that kind of behavior. And there are difficulties inherent to this kind of self-awareness: discipline is itself not a negative characteristic or poor tool to employ in one’s practice, but the way in which one talks to one’s self in the context of practicing discipline is very important in determining whether it is a boon or a bane to one’s training. There has to be a point or goal to the criticism and ideally one should push against the negative critique rather than crumbling under it.
I get down on myself easily. I have very high expectations for my own performance, mostly due to my keen eye in detecting flaws that I deem to be below the level of skill I believe myself to have attained already. At least mentally. But again this is being employed in a highly negative sense. Identifying mistakes and correcting them with a neutral mind seems fine, but getting agitated or self flagellating because of minor errors helps nothing and nobody. Say you are distracted or in love with your own voice while trying to drink a glass of water, the liquid goes down the wrong pipe and you choke. It’s embarrassing and you deal with it, but there probably is not a critical thought along the lines of, “Jesus, you’d think I know how to swallow water without choking by now!” That’s just crazy.