Our experiences influence our beliefs. That is why one negative experience can shape your perceptions about a thing forever. Let me illustrate by sharing a personal story.
I had a terrible experience with a particular fish when I was about 12 years old. I can’t remember the name of the fish again, but I had a horrible stomach upset after eating that fish, the pain was so bad it scared me from eating fresh fish.
Before that experience, I could eat any fish whichever way my mother cooked it. But after that one experience, I stayed away from fresh fish.
Don’t allow a negative experience from the past prevent you from trying new things
My childhood experience with fresh fish is an example of how just one unpleasant experience can create fear in us and stop us from trying new experiences. If your past experiences with weight loss programmes have not been very positive, they will influence your perceptions about nutrition and fitness, and if you have had positive experiences with weight loss programmes, they will reinforce your commitment to nutrition and fitness.
Success breeds success, and failure breeds failure
In psychology, self-efficacy is defined as, “confidence that you can perform a specific task”. “It describes the circular relationship between belief and action: the more you believe you can do something, the more likely it is that you will do it; the more you do something successfully, the more you believe that you will be able to do it again. The opposite is also true: the more you believe that you cannot do something, the less likely you will do it; the more you do something unsuccessfully, the less you believe that you will be able to do it again” (ACSM).
Can I do this?
Your past experiences will influence your sense of self-efficacy, and your sense of self-efficacy will affect your perceptions of your ability.
People with positive self-perceptions are more self-motivated and feel they are capable of making behaviour change for health improvement
Corbin & Welk
Your sense of self-efficacy will influence the choices you make and your persistence in the face of obstacles. Everyone around you may think you can do it, but if deep down in your heart you have self-doubts, you are going to prove everyone wrong and prove yourself right. It is not possible to act outside of your self-beliefs.
How to turn a negative experience into an advantage
Recognise that the negative experience is just an experience and that the experience does not define who you are or your ability.
- Create an environment for everyday victory. Commit to practising 2-3 health habits you can succeed at every day. The more victories you gain every day, the more your confidence will grow. Remember, “Success consists of a series of little daily victories.”
- Actively seek new (positive) experiences. Stop saying things like: “I have always failed at this.” “I have never been able to go past this stage before.” “I have always gained all the weight back”. “I have never been able to control my eating for a long time.” Stop the negative, self-defeating thoughts and talks. Believe it is going to work this time, and let your belief show in your actions.
- Look for inspiration from those who have been able to overcome negative experiences. Someone has overcome the habits you’re struggling with right now. Someone has found an answer to the question you’re asking. Let their success stories become the inspirations you need to move from I can’t to I DID IT!
- Repeat 1-4 until your beliefs become your realities.
If you think you can do a thing, or you think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.
Believe that you can
Many people believe you can do it and they are rooting for you. Go ahead and prove everyone who is rooting for you right by trying again. Because if you try, you have a chance.