Everyone has doubts, fears and anxiety about something in their life. The only difference is some of us admit it and some of us pretend we don’t.
For a few years now I have called these doubts, fears etc. the Mind Dogs, because at times it feels like you are being attacked by them and can’t do a thing to stop them. If you imagine a big black German Shepherd or Rottweiler attacking you, it is a situation you would feel like you have no control over, you can’t stop the attack nor can you change the dog’s behaviours. This is what we often think about our fears, doubts etc.
GOOD NEWS…..You can train your mind the same way you can train a dog. Repetitive, repeatable behaviours and cues will have you thinking and feeling a different way.
How does this work in training? I’m glad you asked. When your mind dogs are at their worst is when you are exhausted, under stress and pushed to you limit (i.e. When you are in the middle of a killer WOD and your mind is screaming at you to stop & give up). Kind of like how a dog senses fear, your doubts and fears sense when you’re vulnerable. The way you can overcome these fears, doubts etc. about your ability is just keep going until physically you can’t push any harder. Your mind gives in way before your body will. If you go for that next pull-up, snatch or run and your body can’t do it, you will fail, no matter how much you want it. Your mind dogs are what stop you and have you quit before you reach your limit.
Back to our analogy of being attacked by a German Shepherd or Rottweiler, the thought of that happening is so frightening because it is something you have probably never experienced in your life. If it happened over and over again day in and day out you would probably come to accept it as “kind of normal”, as crazy as this sounds. Your fears and doubts are exactly the same. You have been letting them attack you for so long that it just seems normal now.
When you are going the the box and thinking “I shouldn’t really be going because I suck at a particular movement”.
When you are choosing your scaling option and thinking “I am shit because I can’t do XYZ”
When you are looking at the person next to you and saying to yourself ” they are so much better than me, I could never be that good”
These are all just examples of you letting the mind dogs out to play. YOU have ultimate control and choice over what you think and what you achieve in the box, in your training and ultimately in your life.
Here are some practical tips.
When the shit thoughts start, tell yourself ” it’s just the mind dogs, it’s all bullshit”
Whatever the fear or doubt is, identify it e.g. “I really suck at pull-ups” may really be “I don’t want to look stupid because I can’t do pull-ups”
RUN YOUR OWN RACE. Realise you are your only competition. Nobody else cares what you’re doing, they’re too busy fighting their own mind dogs to notice you.
Praise yourself and be SUPER PROUD of every little improvement in skill, time and performance. Have an improvement journal where you write down ALL the improvements you make in training.
Realize that your Health and Fitness is a journey not a destination. Keep moving and you WILL get there. You can always improve whether you’re Rich Froning, Sam Briggs or you are brand new to training.
Finally the key is to always be training the mind dogs and they will eventually be there to do what you want them to do instead of attacking you constantly and having your feel like you have no control. Recognise your fears and doubts as the bullshit self attacking crap that they are, they are no good for you.
Remember MENTAL TOUGHNESS IS THE KEY!
About the Author Shaun O’Gorman is the owner of Focus WOD and could not be more passionate about helping people on their Crossfit journey. Shaun has been Crossfitting since 2009 but only achieved real results when he stopped thinking of himself as a guy who was “just trying to keep fit” and started thinking of himself as an Athlete. “This was really challenging at first because I felt like a fool thinking of myself this way. Since changing my mindset I approach my training, nutrition and life in such a completely new way that brings results I never thought were possible. I am the fittest and strongest I have ever been and I’m loving it.” Shaun is also a Level One Crossfit Coach and has used his mindset and focus skills with Crossfit Athletes in their training getting AWESOME results for them. He says “Mental Toughness Is The Key”
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