In Crossfit there are so many things to learn, satisfaction is short lived. I remember when I first started Crossfit I was really committed to, I mean obsessed with learning kipping pull-ups. When I learned how to do them, I soon wanted butterflies and when I finally got them, I started desperately working towards muscle ups. After the initial elation – a week of being able to do muscles ups I wasn’t happy because I wanted to do them properly – without chicken winging, and now I can do that, I want to link them with perfect technique.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with this cycle of elation, satisfaction, dissatisfaction and frustration. I see it in the gym daily, athletes striving to learn and improve, the satisfaction doesn’t last long!
If you train each day for your ego, showing off and only putting the effort into what you are good at you are wasting your time and progress will be limited. All of us have exercises, which we like and are better at, and others, which we struggle with. If you’re a competitive athlete – or working towards competing, it’s likely that you will spend a lot of time, not doing your favourite things, but working on your ‘weaknesses’ . Of course this is essential and right. However, as a coach I’ve noticed, and a recent experience has reminded me how easy it is to lose perspective when you’re relentlessly hammering yourself, learning to do things better and working on things you’re not so good at. You can lose perspective and forget that you are actually good at some things too. When you get to this point you may find you are doubting yourself, or in a bad mood!
Of course we all have our moments, and frustration and anger can lead to change – if you direct your fire in a constructive way. However it’s not acceptable to let off steam left, right centre, and no one wants a moody training buddy who they have to reassure and manage on a full time basis.
Internalising this frustration is can also lead to dips in motivation, making you more likely to quit, so it’s important to get to grips with this cycle if you want to improve and you want to be succeed.
One way to effectively manage this challenge is to equip yourself with some mental strategies to help you to get and stay in your best mindset. This is what this post and the next one is about.
I recommend a great tool borrowed from positive psychology, which is highly transferable to the box. It’s super simple, yet highly powerful. In practice this means reflecting on what has gone well. You can be specific to your training, what went well in training today? What went well in your weight lifting practice? This might seem an obvious thing to do, but how often do you do it? How often you take the time to reflect on what went well?
Most people reflect (mostly unconsciously) or focus on what didn’t go well and this can leave them feeling negative. There’s naturally a protective and primal reason for doing this because, our brains have evolved, and as a species we have survived mostly by paying attention to ‘threats’ and learning from mistakes in order to stay alive.
However, if you are always scanning from problems and ignoring all the good stuff, you are not getting a balanced picture. Over time this will naturally leave you feeling negative and anxious.
Focusing on what went well will train your brain to filter in the good stuff too. This lifts your mood and energy levels and will help you to deal with the tougher stuff.
It’s not just about giving yourself a pat on the back and stroking your ego, its about taking responsibility for your mood, reassuring yourself and maintaining your best mindset to take on the tough stuff. It will you keep you going through the relentless, unsexy weightlifting or gymnastic drills and maybe boring but essential accessory work which needs to be done.
Start today, what went well? Seeing the light and gaining perspective will give you strength, raise your motivation and sharpen your focus.
Want to build your mental muscle and your ability to learn more easily? Get in touch and ask about our Athlete Mindset development program, or 1:1 Peak Performance coaching.
Picture Credit: Gareth Smith