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#69 Breaking up with a cheerleader: letting go of your justifying beliefs

A central concept in the Clarity Quest is learning to recognise the voices of the judge and the cheerleader in your head, and replacing them with a script from the coach.

Identifying the cheerleader

The Cheerleader’s job is to give you excuses for why you should stay where you are (where it is safe and comfortable). You can recognise that voice when you hear yourself thinking things like:

  • You can’t quit your job, they really pay you well.

  • Be grateful, at least you have a job

  • What’s the point of getting fit, you’re going to die anyway

  • You don’t have to focus on what you want, you have small kids that take all your time and energy.

  • It’s not your fault you’re in this situation

  • Look how well you’ve done, you don’t need to push on because you’re already seeing rewards / getting recognition

The cheerleader typically sounds reasonable and is very quick to point out what you already have or have done.

A telltale sign that you’re hearing the cheerleader is when playing that thought out practically gives you permission to not take action or to blame someone else.

Even healthy thoughts can become cheerleader thoughts if you use them as an excuse for inaction.

For example, gratitude has a number of proven mental health benefits, and is consistently related to greater happiness. However, when you let gratefulness become an excuse to not get out of a toxic situation (at least I have a job / a boyfriend even if it is really bad for me) or to not go after what you really want (I get paid well so I’m going to ignore my dreams of starting my company die), you’ve let that thought become the voice of the cheerleader.

The same applies for thoughts like, “Look how well you’ve done”, “You can take it easy”, “You don’t have to add yet another thing to your busy life”. Acknowledging your achievements is a great practice, and being aware of your capacity and resting is critical for remaining healthy. But when those thoughts become excuses to not move forward because you’re resting on your laurels or allow rest to become laziness, you’re giving in to the cheerleader.

Shift your focus

Now that you’ve identified those cheerleader thoughts, shift your focus by asking “Who do I have to become to get what I want?” Reaching your goals is easy because they have been achieved by many people before you. Your challenge is becoming the person — the version of you — who has the mindset, skills and focus to achieve it.

For example, “You don’t have to run today because it’s cold, dark and rainy outside” is a classic cheerleader line that I’ve heard so many people say. But if you want to become a person who is fit, you also have to be a person who exercises regularly. And when a person who exercises regularly hears that voice, they respond with, “I’m going to get wet anyway and running will warm me up”, or “If I can run in this weather, I can run in any weather.”

The voice of the coach will always help you take action and move you towards becoming the person who can live the life you want.

Water that belief

Whatever new coach thoughts you responded to or replaced your cheerleader thoughts with, you need to repeat them regularly and continue taking action on them to make them your new default and disrupt your old belief system.

For example, what if it’s hot? Or if you’ve have a REALLY long day at work? Or you’ve picked up an injury?

For each of those examples there are many coach thoughts to help you continue taking action, depending on who you want to be and why you’re trying to get fit. Some examples include:

  • “It’s going to be hot for the next 3 months so I’m going to start running in the evenings or early morning”

  • “The hormones I get from running will help me show up as a better person when I get home instead of a tired grump”

  • “I can’t run for the next three weeks but I’m going to keep doing whatever exercise my body is capable in that time slot to keep the rhythm.”

Focus on and train the voice of the coach over and over to script what you want to hear in order to become who you want to be.


Who do you need to become to get what you want?

What cheerleader thoughts are stopping you from taking action in that direction?

What new coach thoughts can you script to replace the voice of the cheerleader?

Can you schedule that action the coach thoughts is prompting in your calendar? If so, do it now!

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