The ‘I’ Code: How Your Words Define You

It was a quiet afternoon in the gym until about 45 minutes ago, it was the end of the week and the gradual sleep deprivation and hours working had caught up with me. I was going to squat today at some point though because unless I’m injured, I don’t miss training sessions.

As it happens, Dom had come in to train squats.

I’ve known Dom for a long time, he was one of my first clients and through discipline, practice and patience he’d gone from being weak and out of shape to becoming a competitive powerlifter. No one else was in, this seemed like a good time to squat.

So we grabbed our belts, I grabbed the little white beepy thing that lets me know if anyone else comes in to the gym, and we made our way to weight room.

Have you ever had a session where your warm-up weight felt heavy? It was one of those. I could feel the tightened muscles in my legs rebelling as we started, I felt like I’d already done a full session before I’d finished my warm up. Still, we warmed up and worked up adding plates as we went.

Taking turns we gradually crossed off our sets for the day, it was now my last set and I was flagging. Dom used a nasty bastard tactic on me that I had used on him many times over the years..  lie about how many reps I had left.

You’d think a grown man would be able to count to six but it turns out that when you’re squatting heavy and trying to get more breath in as your vision starts to blur, you’re not that great at anything requiring brain power.

There’s a funny thing about squats. You nearly always have another rep in you.

You do.

It’s just horrific to get through.

Anyway it worked like a charm, we got all of our reps and we’d survived to lift another day. As I sat against the wall catching my breath I said “I swear the only trick to this is forcing your body to do this shit.”

Completely uninhibited and simply true.

When I’d taken in enough oxygen to regain my mental faculties I thought to myself, ‘I don’t regularly appreciate the importance of this. Do other people?’

Your Body Will Do What You Tell It

Our bodies do have limits but not many of us ever come close to testing them. Our minds give up first. The body sends the mind messages and the mind, like the captain of a ship in a storm, must keep the crew on track through hard times, regardless of how panicked or tired the crew is.

Getting that extra rep, running that extra mile, keeping to your diet when you want nothing more than to break it. These are all times when the mind has to keep the body in check. For many people though, the body will win. The mind will decide that giving up is an option and begin to rationalise it so that we can have what we want in the moment, rather than what we truly want.

You have all of the power and all of the choice, you just need to take the responsibility that goes with it.

Take a deep breath and go sit at the big desk on the top floor. You’re in charge, you know what you want and you just have to give the orders and make sure your body follows them.

Choose Your Words

Language is important. Most of it is subconscious and it is learned that way, it’s not that easy to open our conscious mind to something that lies beneath.

Most people who I’ve trained have achieved awesome things, there are a few exceptions but I could count them on one hand and still have enough fingers free to grip the bar. I’ve also noticed that each ‘generation’ of people who I train with get better significantly faster than the last. As much as I’d like to say it’s just that I get that much better each year, it’s not that at all. We all pick up mannerisms from the people that we spend time around and the group of people who thought and talked like achievers was simply bigger each time newer people joined. They adopted the beliefs of the group, they saw what was possible and they did it for themselves.

There’s nothing and no one in existence that can hold you back like you can. Your beliefs and your words are powerful, they form the fabric of who we are and what we get out of life.

Weak Words

So how can our words make such a big difference?

I can’t..

  • I can’t do this.
  • I can’t do that.
  • I can’t say no.
  • I’d love to do this but I can’t let so and so down.

Can’t is a word that should be used rarely when appropriate because we use it at all the wrong times.

You can do most things, it’s all down to whether you choose to. And that’s an important distinction. Choice.

When you say you can’t do something you’re giving away your power and your responsibility. You’re making yourself weak by speaking weak words.

To say you can’t do something is to say that it is impossible for you. If you use the word can’t then there had better be a yet at the end of the sentence or you’re telling yourself that for you, this task isn’t possible and don’t forget it’s not your conscious mind that is going to be using this information. No, it’s your subconscious mind that will run this belief like a background programme until it infects everything you do.

My grandma used to say there’s no such word as can’t. Credit to her, I can’t remember hearing her say it once outside of that phrase. You can do most things. You will or wont, you do or don’t but don’t surrender your choice and power to a bad choice of words.

I’ll Try

I’ll try isn’t always bad. If you’re testing yourself against something that isn’t completely in your control then it might be appropriate but you don’t need to try not to snack.

Just don’t snack.

There’s no outside force making you do it, you have 100% control over that situation.

I’ll try is something you should say when you’re really pushing your limits or when something is outside your locus of control. If you can control the outcome then just do it.

Always and Never

Never and always can also make us weak. They can make us weak because they imply that we will always or never do something – Yes I know, obvious right?

If you catch yourself saying these things then understand that they can be as damaging as the word ‘can’t’ because your subconscious will run with them.

  • I never see things through
  • I always give in to cravings
  • I’ll never be able to do what they do
  • I’ll never be able to lift that

Challenge your words and challenge your beliefs. I’ll bet that every person who uses phrases like these can find evidence to support the opposite argument. There will be times that everyone did see things through, didn’t give in to temptation and with enough work, most times you can achieve what you set out to.

The ‘I’ Code

When I was in high school, I studied philosophy as part of our enrichment programme in sixth form. The teacher of this class was a man called Mr Shaheen and he was a calm, intelligent chap who knew how to stimulate critical thinking in a group of know-it-all teenagers. One day he said to us that we, humans, were effectively the same as computers. He opened the statement to discussion and the lesson went on from there.

That was over 10 years ago. Since then I’ve built several websites, worked with programmers and application specialists and I’ve coached a lot of people. I now know that we are remarkably similar to computers; we can be incredible when properly focused, we freeze up when we try to do too many things at once and our programmes and background programmes ultimately determine who we are and what we do.

To those who think that we’re that different, stop to consider the fact that you’ve probably bought something from a machine this week. 

Just like computer programmes have their languages, we have ours and the ‘I’ code forms the most important part of our identity.

  • I am
  • I will
  • I can
  • I think
  • I believe
  • I want
  • I need

Everything that follows ‘I’ says a lot about you. Your character, your thoughts and beliefs, your wants and needs and dreams. We should be aware of what we say when we start a sentence, spoken or written, with the word ‘I’.

Similarly, we should also be mindful of things we say starting with ‘You’, especially when talking to children and young adults who we might make an impression on.

Make sure that the words that follow ‘I’ make you stronger and make sure that when other people talk about ‘you’ they aren’t putting limits on you.

If you want to be a winner, you’ve got to act like one.

Until next time,