Where’s Your Head At?

Posted: June 16, 2012 by Admin in Random Thoughts

“Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously and never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop this picture!”

–Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

You’re at the platform with a personal record in sight. You load the bar and feel the roughness of the knurling as you wrap your hands around its form. You set your back and shoulders and breathe in….now, STOP!!!!!!

What’s in your mind at that moment?

What you choose to focus your mind on is critical because you will become what you think about most of the time.” – Noel Peebles

“When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a lamp in a windless place.” – Bhagavad Gita

Are you a bundle of nerves?

Do you doubt yourself?

Are you consumed with every single detail of proper technique?

Are you “pumping yourself up?”

Perhaps you are thinking of someone who has wronged you in the past and will use this lift to inflict the retribution you so dearly want to unleash.

Maybe you’re thinking back to your childhood when doubt first entered your mind, or someone said you could not do something.

Instead, you may sit at the bar and relive every missed lift and/or every failure of your entire life.

Listen now: whatever you think before the lift, you will usually prove yourself right.

“I can’t lift this. It’s too heavy.” Your eyes convey this message. It’s written all over your face. I’ve seen this look before, my friend, and I’ve yet to see a successful lift from someone who has given in to this emotion.

When I see the calm, ferocious tenacity of a confident lifter, rarely do they miss. Now, even the best lifters in the world miss sometimes. And they move on to the next lift. A principle of successful lifting is that past lifts, good or bad, must forever stay in the past. We can’t rest on the success of past made lifts, nor can we allow past failures to place future lifts under the lash of negativity.

Fear is the enemy of the lifter. When we allow False Events Appearing Real to enter into our mind, our chances at nailing a lift drop to almost zero. What’s the worst that could happen? You’ve been taught how to miss. You’re on a platform surrounded by rubber. The plates bounce. You have multiple people around you who can offer a spot. What’s the worst that could happen? You miss…that’s about it.

And SO WHAT? Don’t you know that by missing we make progress? When we miss, this allows us to ask the all important question, “why did I miss?” Missing also helps frame our threshold of ability, thus helping focus our training goals more precisely. When we miss due to fear, however, then we run the risk of seriously stunting our progress.

Michael Jordan is perhaps one of the greatest athletes to ever live. Listen to his thoughts on failing:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

My background is in behavioral psychology. Unlike my brethren in other orientations within the field, my best advice is to get over yourself. When approaching the bar, try to clear your mind. You are coached well. You are never asked to do ANYTHING outside of your realm of ability. At CrossFit Infragilis we are not about breaking you: we are about making you UNBREAKABLE. So, consider these steps.

1. Before addressing the bar, close your mind and see yourself nailing that lift three times.

2. Address the bar and make sure you set everything. I tell myself, (a) feet, (b) grip, (c) hips and butt, (d) iron cross (that’s setting the back and shoulders), (e) deep breath.

3. Pick a focal point on the wall.

4. Lift

Let’s take a look at what not to do. We’ll use the clean for an example.

1. Before addressing the bar, you think, “why is so much weight on that bar? Doesn’t Jim know that I can’t do that? He’s a mean dude and just wants to embarrass me in front of all of my friends. Futhermore, when he recommends the Paleo diet, he’s really just trying to make me fat and unable to wear my skinny jeans.”

2. Address the bar and tell yourself, (a) “I can’t do this,” (b) “wait, Jim always says something about my hips, what was that again? Shake my hips?” (this is usually done while the bar is moving, (c) go over every single technical aspect, points of acceleration, bar trajectory, the perfect transitions from the first to the second and then to the third pulls, (d) think about what you’re going to do after class, your grocery list, etc., (e) think about your classmate who just nailed a lift and secretly hate them, while smiling the whole time.

3. Look all over the room to see who is watching you and who will witness you crashing and burning.

4. Lift, and repeat steps 1-3 while this heavy bar is in motion.

See what a disaster this presents?

Now, developing a quiet mind at the bar just doesn’t happen. As with all skills mental and physical, it takes practice. Strive to not fight or resist negative thoughts. In fact, try not to attend to them at all. When you try to “fight off” negativity with the opposite, positive thought, you actually give power to that negative thought. When such thoughts receive power of any kind, they grow and soon overwhelm us. Instead, try to barely give it notice at all. Treat it as a small, dark cloud on an otherwise clear, beautiful, and sunny day. This will take several weeks, if not months, to perfect. Do not become discouraged. Practice quieting your mind each rep.

When you receive coaching, try to incorporate one thing you are told into your next lift. If your coach tells you fifty things, ask him or her, “what can I try to fix on the next lift?” Then simply add this to step 2 of the correct set up for a lift. If you’re told “your shrug needs more explosiveness,” simply say, right before you take in your breath, “big shrug,” then empty your mind.

Try it, it works!

“A quiet mind cureth all.” – Robert Burton

The lifters in these pictures are Amanda Hubbard Sandovall and Samantha Zimmerman, two of the best lifters I’ve ever seen with my own eyes.

Written by Jim, who still is trying to quiet his mind.

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