Selective Hearing: Turn it On


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  46 comments   :  16,200 Views

Back in my high school days I was a long distance competitive swimmer and participated on my school team, as well as the city team. During those four years of swimming I put in countless thousands of laps, hours upon hours of training, but never fully mastered one stroke.

On one occasion I remember my coach having the entire team get out of the pool so they could stand there and watch me swim the butterfly stroke. He wanted to teach them how not to do it. Talk about utter humiliation. Eventually I graduated and moved on, finishing as captain of the team and successful in some distance events that others wouldn’t dream of swimming. Always in the back of my mind though, was the fact that for some reason I couldn’t master the butterfly stroke.

Fast forward three years into college and I met a friend who also was a high school swimmer that specialized in the butterfly stroke. I was quick to tell him how horrible I was at it and that I would never be able to do that stroke correctly. He gave me the “pffft” noise and said “get in the pool, and I’ll show you how to do it.” Within 30 minutes he had me swimming a great butterfly stroke, up and down the pool. How did that happen? 

I have kept this in mind for many years now, as an explicit example of how we can let someone else’s words and beliefs impact what we allow ourselves to achieve. I now use the “pffft” noise when someone says to me, “I’m never going to be able to lose this weight.” I tell them to "get on SparkPeople, add me as a friend and I’ll show you how to do it. I mean if I can lose all this weight, why can’t you?"

So now I encourage others to engage in selective hearing and tune out those around them that are unsupportive and negative about their chances for success. When they start telling you how you are never going to lose weight or reach your goals, just tell them to talk to the hand. You’ve got SparkPeople on your side and that is a winning combo. Not sure about that? Check out some of the success stories in the community tab. 

Start believing in yourself, and your ability to win this challenge to get healthy. Join together with other like minded individuals who want to build you up, encourage you, teach you, inspire you, and together we can all cross the finish line reaching our goals. Don’t let the naysayers hold you back anymore. This is your time to fly free!

Visit the Community tab on SparkPeople to find SparkTeams and Message Boards to help you connect with other members who are waiting to encourage you.

Have you browsed through some of the success stories? Are you the naysayer in your own journey? What can you do to take some positive steps toward believing in your ability to accomplish the task today?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!
NEXT ENTRY >   10 Ways to Save Money While Staying Healthy and Fit


  • 46
    Great article. Selective hearing is useful in many areas.... it helps me manage my stress level at times. - 11/21/2011   12:49:36 AM
  • 45
    Thank you, you have no idea how much I needed to hear that at this moment - 11/14/2011   5:48:38 PM
  • 44
    I love this blog and I love everyone's thoughts and contributions too!
    My very big-hearted bestie taught me a lesson on selective hearing.
    If someone throws a negative comment about her appearance or her being too much or too large in the world she says to herself (but sometimes to the person) : "That Is So Your Stuff!"
    I do it now too and it is so helpful! - 11/13/2011   6:19:02 PM
    Absolutely loved the swimming anecdote. It illustrates the difference between those who encourage and those who simply criticize.

    I have been too often halted in my life's journey by the critics, especially when the critics are those whom one expects to be supportive. That's a tough obstacle to overcome. Cheering oneself on can sometimes be hard.

    Thanks for this blog. - 11/13/2011   2:05:53 PM
  • 42
    excellent blog! i guess i would be the naysayer in my life, it's difficult being positive all the time, especially when you are struggling (and have been for a long time). honestly when i'm being extrememly negative i just tell myself to shut up, that i'm being silly, and i remind myself of my accomplishments. - 11/13/2011   6:36:00 AM
    Loved your blog my friend!!
    Thank you for sharing! - 11/12/2011   6:25:12 PM
  • 40
    Great message! Thank you for reminding us and for doing it so well! - 11/12/2011   12:13:54 PM
  • 39
    Thanks for the blog. I certainly can use all of he encouragement I can get. - 11/12/2011   12:12:07 PM
  • 38
    Thanks so much. I really needed this. I'm my own worst enemy and since I have to limit the length of my exercising, I've been feeling down. - 11/12/2011   9:13:10 AM
  • 37
    Great post - I totally need to practice this because sometimes there are people who say negative things and, as you say, it does affect you whether you realise it or not. We should just try to focus on the positive comments that help keep us going on our weightloss journey. - 11/12/2011   6:30:23 AM
  • 36
    What a great post! I needed that.My most negative person in my life now is my husband.Part of his negative thinking has to do with my former mother-in-law told him,if he wanted to see me get alot done or really accomplish something, just tell me I can't do it.I will prove him wrong everytime.That doesn't work anymore as I am so tired of the negativety.
    - 11/12/2011   2:55:57 AM
  • 35
    Great blog Michelene! You are always such an inspiration and that Coach should be eating his words right now. - 11/11/2011   11:47:32 PM
    Really great story you've shared! Very cool how one simple gesture can motivate someone. - 11/11/2011   9:11:46 PM
  • 33
    Inspiring words! - 11/11/2011   4:07:26 PM
  • DIANN111
    Thank you...Just what I needed to give myself a little push in the right direction! - 11/11/2011   10:07:47 AM
  • 31
    I was just thinking about negative talk today after reading about a motivational speaker and entrepreneur who started a business after tutoring his cousins using Youtube videos. The professor mentioned the school system tried and not necessarily true way of buttonholing kids into the way their life will be. He questioned this tactic because those who are doing this are not experts - it is just their opinion because the kid might be struggling with that subject of learning. Good to stir it up! And also a very important reminder to "be careful little mouth what you say". Words can be heavy and destroy or they can be light and encouraging. - 11/11/2011   9:59:06 AM
    I needed this today!!! - 11/11/2011   9:24:26 AM
  • 29
    I really needed to hear this, but most of all, I need to practice this. My problem is I am my worst enemy and doubter. - 11/11/2011   9:01:24 AM
  • 28
    - 11/11/2011   9:01:13 AM
    Awesome post! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us - very motivational - 11/11/2011   7:26:36 AM
  • 26
    I needed to hear this today. I definitely have too many negative people in my life. - 11/11/2011   4:40:14 AM
  • 25
    Thank you for the great blog post, it's very timely for me and I am duly unblocking my ears to hear the positive stuff and will turn a deaf ear to the naysayers! :-)

    It's funny, I think the universe must really want me to realise this because I got the same message yesterday. I met a lovely lady - she is retired but more positive, vibrant and engaged with life than most of my younger friends. She told me the exact same thing - told me to stop telling myself a certain story that there's something I can't do. She said "rewrite" the story in my head to tell myself I CAN do it!

    So between this blog and the wonderful lady, this message has really hit home for me! - 11/11/2011   4:10:36 AM
  • 24
    MichC, your guest blog reminds me of my childhood. I almost 100% believed that I was an adopted child or from my dad's other wife (he doesn't even have another wife!), all thanks to my brother's AND mom's teasing. Very believable for a young kid as one, I look totally like my dad (but with feminine features and nothing on my features similar to my mom) and I didn't look related to my brother (the elder, the good looking, sweet-talking, annoying brother and I even once told my friends that this was my boyfriend and they believe it, talk about very unsimiliar looking siblings!). And that's how it all started of me not believing I'm pretty and I always have low confident whenever around my family. I think it's easier for me to do the selective hearing as you said in the blog with other people but somehow fail to do it with my relatives, *eye rolling. - 11/11/2011   12:46:36 AM
  • 23
    Once again, as always, proud to say you have been one of my Sparkfriends from the beginning! Great article! I have to say that that swimming coach sure knew how to be counterproductive to his own goals. Ouch! So glad you have learned to how to swim that stroke and for having learned that nothing is beyond your reach. YOU ROCK! :) - 11/11/2011   12:30:57 AM
  • MAHONEY_09
    This was great and I'm adding you as friend! You are a wonderful confidence builder! - 11/10/2011   9:48:46 PM
  • 21
    "....encourage others to engage in selective hearing and tune out those around them that are unsupportive and negative about their chances for success. " WISE advice indeed...for more than just weight loss and fitness! - 11/10/2011   9:03:47 PM
  • 20
    Great post! I'm adding it to my Facebook page. What a help! - 11/10/2011   8:05:40 PM
    Thank you ! You are a wonderful inspiration to those who struggle in the confidence area. I'm saving this for when I'm struggling more than normal to remind myself, don't give up, I can do this and look back to see what motivation
    really looks like. - 11/10/2011   5:05:40 PM
  • 18
    This is so funny, since I was never a good swimmer, but the one stroke I was good at was the BUTTERFLY. How cute. - 11/10/2011   4:58:51 PM
    I play roller derby and this applies to my sport, running, rugby, etc. thanks! - 11/10/2011   4:48:21 PM
  • 16
    Your blog makes me feel like marching to the front lines! Very encouraging, left me feeling totally motivated. Thanks so much! - 11/10/2011   4:38:08 PM
  • 15
    What a terrific blog! I love the story, and the illustration of how Drew's positive input changed your whole experience. Very empowering! Great writing!! :)) - 11/10/2011   4:31:28 PM
  • 14
    Selective hearing when it comes to negativity is always a good thing. - 11/10/2011   2:31:26 PM
  • 13
    Boy, did this blog resonate with me! Negativity is deadening to anyone's self-steem. Great advice. I try to hang around positive people. They are so much happier. - 11/10/2011   2:09:52 PM
  • 12
    I think we need to use the "Pffft" on that little voice in our head too:) thanks for the blog - loved it. - 11/10/2011   1:32:27 PM
  • 11
    Very nice blog @Mich! The support found at SparkPeople is incredible. Here we have THOUSANDS of people going through the exact same issues as we are! You need support, come here!! - 11/10/2011   1:28:24 PM
  • 10
    Awesome blog!!

    I have had 3 moments in my life where I let the words of others have an effect on my weight loss. Once my sister said ... after I just told her I finally got to the 30 pound weight loss ... "You still have a long way to go." She called that support. After losing another 5 pounds which seemed to take weeks someone said to me "The pounds will start to come off slower soon." and the last comment that rings in my head is: "The way you eat you'll be fat someday."

    Those comments went straight to my soul because I let them. I would go on fasts as a teenager so that someday I wouldn't be fat. I gave up on my diet after my sister told me I had a long ways to go. I only had 30 more pounds to go! I wish that's all I had to lose now.

    I moved away from home because of the job. I lost 80 pounds by eating 3 meals and working out at the gym. It fell off so fast and easy when something in my life came along and hit me in the gut I gained the 80 pounds back and then some.

    Since joining this site I can see that I let these sort of comments kill my progress. I keep my head in a good place and watch out for those toxic comments.... which are still coming. I have to think to myself that these people honestly believe they are supporting my weight loss. I do not let those comments infect my head any longer. My goal is to make life long changes in my mind, gut and body.

    I am winning! - 11/10/2011   1:03:38 PM
  • 9
    Thank you for reminding us that negative people affect us negatively and we have the final say as to who we listen to. It isn't rude not to listen to CRAP. Turn up the volume from all those who support us and drown out the naysayers! - 11/10/2011   12:51:56 PM
  • 8
    WooHoo! Awesome advice! Be your own best cheerleader and only listen to the good stuff! Yay! - 11/10/2011   12:13:25 PM
  • 7
    Thank you for posting this! I've been struggling lately with my own self confidence and my ability to continue my journey not only with my weightloss but with my higher education as well. I will definitely take a lesson from this. - 11/10/2011   12:08:45 PM
  • 6
    Mich - Thanks for blogging about your experience. I love your phrase, "Talk to the hand...". Because you are right, we shouldn't let people critize us and knock us down. Because if you have the right mind set and the fight, you can do anything!

    Awesome blog! - 11/10/2011   12:03:19 PM
  • 5
    Selective hearing. Great advice when trying to achieve any goal or skill. Thank you for sharing! - 11/10/2011   11:24:00 AM
  • TLOVESC1125
    Thanks for sharing - 11/10/2011   11:22:56 AM
    I love this. Talk to the hand, because the ears are not hearing ya. lol - 11/10/2011   10:57:02 AM
  • 2
    FANTASTIC blog. Thank you. - 11/10/2011   10:53:40 AM
  • 1
    Look at you SparkFriend with your own Daily Spark Blog post! So PROUD of you! Take it from me, Michcleary is truly a motivational sparkfriend. Thank you for all the running advice and support. - 11/10/2011   10:52:18 AM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›