THE NEXT STEP: where focusing on feelings = action

Your body never lies; however, this is not always true. There are instances where it does give erroneous messages to the brain, which consequently cause you to stop an activity, when you could keep going, if you wanted to.
The key part here is desire. No, not that kind of desire, although it is highly motivating! Aspiring to do something can override the body telling you that it is exhausted or “can’t”.

Research has shown that when your body sends feedback to the brain that muscles are fatigued, the determination of the individual – and/or the element of competition – can force further performance. As can being shown a virtual reality version of you with, for example, your cycling speeded up: you will match the pace that you are supposedly doing on screen.

In addition, to visual brain trickery, giving yourself positive self-talk is proven to be effective at helping you go the extra mile. Professor Stephen Cheung (Brock University, Canada) has studied cyclists for years. During endurance tests where cyclists pedal all out to exhaustion for a short time, often in simulated extreme environmental conditions, saying “keep going, you are doing really well” is not surprisingly much better than “I’m boiling” or “I’m dehydrated”.

What is astonishing is the impact that this has on results. In one study, compared to the eight minutes when the self-talk was negative, cyclists kept the wheels spinning 11 minutes and increased their core body temperature (which usually the brain will signal to lower) when giving themselves positive, motivational messages instead.

Finding your inner reserves and acting upon them increases confidence. You learn that you can do it, you stretch yourself and build new skills and strengths in the process. Of course, you exceeding your potential inspires others too. However, there is also another way of going the extra mile.

As many of us are now in, or approaching National Lockdown 2, it is possible that like all sequels it will not be quite as good an experience as the first (assuming that “good” means that you coped OK first time). The novelty is no longer present and depending on latitude the shorter days and colder weather could adversely impact this occasion. If you have been a Brighter Thinker for a while, you will know that I strongly believe “you get what you focus on” and this is no exception: however, you may have to work harder at this second or more (!) time around.

This is where the other meaning for going the extra mile is particularly significant. Others could be experiencing challenging circumstances and feelings too however, like grief, when at first everyone is very attentive, over time, the calls stop and the bereaved is left on their own.

So this month, I encourage you to find the opportunities where you can go the extra mile for yourself and accomplish things that you did not know you could, whether it is finishing work projects faster, supporting your team in new ways, embracing a new skill or stretching yourself with physical exercise. Plus, consider where you can go the extra mile to help others – even more than you usually do! 😉

I will be checking-in more on those who are living and or working on their own. Just because we experienced Lockdown earlier in the year, does not mean that this time it will be easier – or less lonely.

If you would like some random Brighter Thinking boosts during November, email me. After all, asking for help is a sign of strength and contributes to brain-friendly peak performance.