Don’t Shoot the 2nd Arrow – Shifting Internal Mindset

Don’t Shoot the 2nd Arrow - Shifting Internal Mindset

This metaphor is a very powerful one especially at this time of year when our inner critical voice is very yappy.

I was recently listening to a podcast and the topic was about mindset and how to reprogram our mindset so we are creating an internal dialogue that sets us up for peace of mind. The speaker was Dr. Srikumar Rao. He just published a book called Modern Wisdom, Ancient Roots.

He has a PHD from Columbia University and teaches a course on self-mastery, a critical state of being, for success at several of the top business schools around the world.

One of his Lessons in this podcast he referred to was Don’t Shoot the 2nd Arrow and I thought this lesson was so applicable to many people I have seen struggling with their mindset around weight loss.

Imagine if somebody shot you with an arrow – would it hurt? 

Yes we can all agree it would hurt.

Now imagine if somebody shot you with a 2nd arrow and it hit you in the exact same spot.  Would that hurt even more!!!! You bet it would.

As Dr Rao describes the message in this metaphor – when we make a mistake, mess up that is the first arrow – it hurts and is not pleasant.  BUT when we start the negative self talk berating ourselves about messing up that is the 2nd arrow and it hurts us even moreso.

So the lesson in this story is – we all mess up, it can’t be helped sometimes but once that first arrow has been shot resist the temptation to shoot the 2nd arrow, avoid the self-criticism that negative inner chatter that can follow.  

The negative self-talk serves no purpose at all and we are just hurting ourselves over and over again.

So the first step is to recognize when the inner chatter is ramping up and even have a mantra to switch your mindset – something such as “Don’t shoot the 2nd arrow”

Then try to simply change the inner dialogue to one of curiosity and ask yourself what can you learn from this experience.  And when you learn something,  it will allow you to grow as a person and as well you will be less likely to keep making that same “mistake”.

Let me give you a more concrete example as it relates to weight loss.

Imagine you are going out to an event with lots of temptations or you have a super busy day and just feel the need to unwind with some “comfort food” as your reward for working so hard:)

Needless to say you go off your food plan to help you lose weight.

First step when you go off your food plan just take notice of it and acknowledge it as an “oops” – This is the first arrow. Doesn’t feel great but then……

 ……..notice your inner dialogue right away,  are you ramping up with all sorts of critical thoughts about yourself????

Now is the time to pause and say to yourself …..“No Need to Shoot The 2nd Arrow” 

Now that you have quieted your mind you will have the mental bandwidth to just be curious.

Ask yourself “why do I think this happened and what can I learn from this??”  Do this even if you have been in the same situation multiple times.  Odds are in the past the negative chatter kicked in and you did not take the time with self-compassion to assess the situation and see what it is teaching you and what you could do differently next time.

The thoughts we put in our mind are just as important if not MORE important than the food we put in our mouths.

So be curious and don’t shoot the 2nd arrow.