Achieving your health and fitness goals involves saying “No” to temptations and old habits that threaten to derail your commitment to a healthier lifestyle. But it turns out that how you say the N-word makes all the difference in your success.
Scientific Research Reveals the Best Way to Say No.
Recent studies published in the Journal of Consumer Research revealed that making the simple switch of saying “I don’t” vs. “I can’t,” significantly improved the odds of sticking to your guns and avoiding the temptation to eat junk food and skip workouts.
The researchers set up various studies, including a group of women who signed up for a health and wellness seminar. The women were divided into the “CAN’T” group (women who were instructed to tell themselves: “I CAN’T miss my workout today” whenever they were tempted to skip out on exercise) vs. the “DON’T” Group (women who were instructed to tell themselves: “I DON’T miss workouts”).
After the end of ten days, the results were pretty dramatic. In the “CAN’T” group, only 1 out of 10 members stuck with their goals for the entire ten days, while the “DON’T” group had an awesome 8 out of 10 members who stayed on track!
WHY THIS WORKS
Heidi Grant Halvorson is the director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University. Here’s how she explains the difference between saying “I don’t” compared to “I can’t”:
“I don’t” is experienced as a choice, so it feels empowering. It’s an affirmation of your determination and willpower. “I can’t” isn’t a choice. It’s a restriction, it’s being imposed upon you. So thinking “I can’t” undermines your sense of power and personal agency.
“In other words, the phrase “I don’t” is a psychologically empowering way to say no, while the phrase “I can’t” is a psychologically draining way to say no.”
THOUGHTS CHANGE YOUR BRAIN
Although thoughts are generated by our brain, most of us don’t realize that the opposite is also true: that our thoughts create our brain. Not only do thoughts, particularly emotional ones, create neural connections, they also stimulate the production of brain chemicals which can change the structure and function of our brain. A good example of this is how the stress hormone cortisol excites brain cells. However, prolonged exposure can kill off brain cells and cause shrinkage in the hippocampus, where memories are stored.
In contrast, studies have shown that those who have gained control over their thoughts through meditation have more neural synapses, stronger neural connections between different parts of their brain and show less age-related atrophy.
Since your thoughts and words have the power to create your reality – choose wisely! Remember, it’s not that you CAN’T think negatively, you DON’T think negatively.