I Think I Can

Dr. Cindy Haines Health Guide
  • The power of positive thinking. Trite catch-phrase, or is there really something here? Let's get into some science on the matter.


    A recent study out of my husband's alma-mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, was done on this subject as it relates to certain aspects of fitness. The study focused on a group of women embarking on a challenging stationary-cycling session. They were evaluated on their perceptions of whether they felt up to the task or not. The researchers found that the women who believed that they could tolerate the tough class reported feeling less muscle pain than those who doubted their ability to "push through".

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    This study addresses the social-cognitive theory. In part, this theory suggests that learning (and subsequently, change in thought pattern) will most likely occur if there is a close identification between an observer and a model for behavior, and if the observer also has a healthy dose of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is essentially the belief in yourself; the belief that YOU CAN DO IT.


    According to Robert Motl and colleagues, the authors of the above mentioned study,

    "Our results are consistent with social-cognitive theory and indicate that self-efficacy for tolerating pain is inversely associated with ratings of muscle pain during maximal and submaximal exercise in healthy and regularly active young adult females. Such findings support a possible examination of strategies for manipulating self-efficacy for tolerating pain and thereby reducing muscle pain during exercise."


    Conclusion: Whether you think you can do it or you think you can't, either way, you are right.


    Positive thinking is a mental attitude that encourages growth and success. It is an optimistic outlook and one that anticipates and expects favorable results. A positive thinker looks forward to the following: happiness, joy, health and a successful outcome of every situation and action. They go through life feeling empowered, secure in the notion that things will work out.


    I have expressed my support of this view for quite some time. Interestingly, I have found that not everyone accepts or believes in the value of positive thinking. When I talk about it with someone new I can expect any of the following reactions: interest, understanding, support, disbelief, amusement, and sometimes even hostility. And even among the people who accept it, not many know how to use it effectively to get the results they seek.

    So, how to think positive? What does this really mean and how do we do it most effectively? In order to accomplish the feat of turning our thoughts toward the positive, work is required and patience is a virtue. Here are my 3 rules of engagement:


    1. Get educated.

    I would encourage you to read about the power of positive thinking, think about its benefits and how it can improve your life. The power of our thoughts is immeasurable. Believe in yourself and give it a try.


    2. Visualize your outcome.

    Think about your goals in fitness and in life. Encourage yourself to dream big and go for the gold. Focus on favorable and beneficial situations. Use positive words in your inner dialogues or when talking with others. We are often so much harder on ourselves than we would ever dream of being on another. Be your own best friend, your very own cheerleader.

  • Keep going. If you stick with it, you can and you will transform the way you think.

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    3. Eliminate the negative.

    This may mean going on a complete media-cleanse. Negative images are so pervasive in the media, everywhere you look. Is it really going to make your life better hearing yet another negatively-tinged report about what's going on with TomKat?


    With such a pervasive negativity in our world, it is inevitable that negative thought will re-enter the picture. When this happens, be aware of it and work on replacing it with a more positive one. Improvement, not perfection, is your goal. Commitment and focus will eventually re-train your mind to think more positively and better ignore negative thoughts.

    Wherever you are in your journey, try to "think positive", expect the good, and watch your circumstances change accordingly. It may take some time but all things worth it usually do.


    Yours in the journey,


Published On: March 07, 2008