What are mental blocks?

I define a mental block as any thought or feeling that prevents us from our desired behavior and potential. It doesn’t matter if we are referring to relationships or doing our max number of butterfly pull-ups. There are two types of mental blocks. External mental blocks and internal mental blocks. External mental blocks are temporary thoughts and feelings we bring into the box. They may arise from getting into an argument with the guy that just cut you off or a stressful day at work. You may be experiencing PMS or an expiring marriage.

External mental blocks may stem from relationships but not the relationship you have with yourself. External mental blocks are not ingrained. They are outside of self. They are temporary. They come and go. Therefore, they will not be my focus.

Internal mental blocks are thoughts and feelings that arise from our core. They are ingrained. They were created from our story – upbringing, relationships (abuse), random events (trauma), failures and accomplishments, break-ups. Depending on our tools, the way we cope with these events and relationships is through our addiction or addictive behavior: drugs, sex, love, food, gambling, cutting, and of course, exercise. We may not all be addicts but we all have vices.

Some struggle with them more than others. We also all have false beliefs about ourselves. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to the CrossFit Games or just getting your first double-under. Everyone has some form or pattern of distorted cognitions because no one has a “perfect” story. Our story forms a distinctive lens that we see the world through, and more importantly, how we view ourselves. We don’t see the world as it is.
We see the world as we are.

So mental blocks are about dirty lenses. In order to rid ourselves of these blocks, we must clean our lenses. We must dissolve these false beliefs about ourselves. Someone once asked me, “How do we know the beliefs are false if we believe them?” We all have a Pseudo and Solid Self, a term created by Marty Bowen in regards to family dynamics and differentiation of self. To Bowen, the degree to which a differentiation of self occurs in an individual reflects the extent to which that person is able to distinguish between the intellectual process and the feeling process (emotions) he or she is experiencing. Thus differentiation of self is related to the degree to which one is able to choose between having his or her actions, relationships and life guided by feelings or thoughts (What part of me is running my life – my gut or my brain? Who is in charge – my feelings or my thinking?)

I define Pseudo as false and Solid as truth. When you are maneuvering in Pseudo Self, you may be seeking approval and validation. Pseudo is fed by ego. Solid is transparency. Pseudo wants you to live in your head while Solid Self wants you to live in the present. Pseudo wants you to negotiate or question yourself. Solid wants you to accept and live your truth. Everyone struggles with this inner conflict.

mental_blocks2In the box, your Pseudo Self is obsessed with the Leaderboard. It forces you to compare yourself to others. It constantly seeks approval and validation. It digs up your past and dangles it in your face. It creates false beliefs. I’m not good enough. Fast enough. Strong enough. I can’t. I don’t deserve it. Our Solid Self accepts and encourages. I accept where I am at. I can. I will. I don’t care what others think. It’s our Solid Self that tells us that a belief is false.

What if you don’t have a Solid Self? Everyone has a Solid Self. We are not born with cognitive distortions. Life creates them for us. Your Solid Self may not be loud but it’s there. You just have to listen for it. We don’t usually hear it because we’re not used to listening to it. Listening to it means challenging our thoughts.

The goal is strengthen your Solid Self and cripple your Pseudo Self. By doing this, you will gradually rid of your false beliefs. Doing away with your false beliefs dissolves your mental blocks. By dissolving your mental blocks, you will perform in a truer form. When you are in your truest form is when you have the most potential. Both in and out of the box.

So how does one get in their truest form?

First, what are your false beliefs?

Here are a few of mine.

  • Since I didn’t play sports in high school or college, I am not an athlete.
  • I am too small to compete in CrossFit.
  • Being a Marriage Family Therapist and not a sports psychologist disqualifies me to write about this topic.

What are yours?

By John Kim

You can pick up John Kim’s book, “MIND/SET”, a therapeutic approach to the mental game at www.theangrytherapist.com.

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