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The Power of "YES!"

Kimber Chase explains the importance of this little word in regards to mental management for many activities, including dog sports.

Scientists and psychologists have done studies (via MRI) and found when a person sees the word "no" flashed on a screen for less than one second, neurotransmitter substances and stress producing hormones are quickly released in the brain. These chemicals disrupt normal brain functioning; they impair logic, reasoning, language processing, and communication. Seeing a list of negative words for a few seconds will make a highly anxious or depressed person feel worse. The more you think about the words, the more you can damage key structures that regulate memory, feelings, and emotions. You'll disrupt your sleep, appetite, and the ability to experience long-term happiness and satisfaction. Then, if you vocalize "no" or even frown a bit while doing so, more stress chemicals are released not only in your brain but also in the listener's. The listener then experiences increased anxiety and irritability, which results in undermining cooperation and trust.

What a spiral! We can overcome our neurological bias for negativity by repetitiously and consciously generating as many positive thoughts as we can. Some psychiatrists believe we must generate three to five positive thoughts for every negative or we likely will fail! Positive words and thoughts propel the motivational centers of the brain into action and help us build resilience to handle life's problems. Even if the positive thoughts are irrational, they will still enhance well-being and happiness. 

Now, put this information into the scope of work-out self talk (for example). What do you say to yourself about exercise? While exercising? About winning? While competing? "I can't," "I'm weak today," "No time," "I'm so tired." Do you say them with a growl on your mug? My advice: when you hear yourself saying negative words like this, say to yourself or out loud exactly the opposite: "I'm excited," "I can," "Now," "Win," "Strong," "Energetic." Even if you don't believe yourself, the words will stop negative thoughts, change your facial expression, perhaps make you smile, and surely motivate change.

Psychologist's advice: choose your words wisely and speak them slowly. This will allow you to interrupt the brain's propensity to be negative, and as research has shown, the mere repetition of positive words like love, peace, and compassion will turn on specific genes that lower physical and emotional stress. You'll feel better about your life, health, exercise, competition, and so on; you'll build more trusting relationships at home and work and live longer. That is the power of "Yes!"

Kimberly "Kimber" Chase, CFT, AFT lives in South Florida and has been competing in agility for 15 years. She has been a certified paramedic, a strength and conditioning coach, a Pilates and spin instructor, and a fitness and aquatic trainer over the past 20 years. Kimber can be reached at or


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