Can Hypnosis Help You Finally Get Fit?
Using Hypnosis to Improve Your Performance
What do supermarathoner Kara Goucher and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez have in common? They, like many other pro athletes, have coaches who help them harness the power of the mind to conquer performance obstacles. "I use hypnosis on athletes to help them tap into issues they aren't consciously aware of -- fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of not being perfect -- that hold them back during competition," says sports psychologist Jim Taylor, PhD, author of Prime Sport: Triumph of the Athlete Mind. "Hypnosis can help people let go of those fears and clear the path to their goals through the power of suggestion."
Imagine your thought process as a traffic light, explains Kristine Eiring, PhD, a psychologist and author of Mindfulness and Sport Psychology for Athletes, whose clients include triathletes, golfers, and basketball players. A negative thought, such as "I can't do this," is a red-light thought. It puts the brakes on your progress, making you tense up, so you don't perform your best. But positive thoughts, like "I will finish this race" and "I'm excited to hit this ball," are green-light thoughts, which help you zoom toward your goal. Simply put, psychologists use hypnosis to encourage the green lights and banish the reds by putting athletes in a relaxed state and having them focus on what they want to happen (hitting a home run) instead of what they don't (striking out).
Try this at home: Use your vocab to think positive. Enlist a partner -- a friend, your spouse -- to say "Switch" every time you utter a negative word, so you can swap in a positive one. For instance, if you say "I'm worried; I've never gone this far" before a long run, your buddy says, "Switch." Then you turn your statement around to "I'm going to feel so great when I accomplish this." "Even if you're not being hypnotized by an expert, with practice your unconscious mind will zone in on those positive words and help you get the outcome you want," says Yvonne Oswald, a hypnotherapist and author of Every Word Has Power.
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