The following is something I sent to my newsletter email list a couple of weeks back, but I reread it today and thought it would make a great blog post too, especially with the CrossFit Open competetion in full swing at the moment! (If you want to get on my newsletter list where I send out regular updates, diet and training tips and my own musings you can sign up below.)
Today I wanted to talk about self-doubt & self-worth. I will be the first to admit that over the years I have struggled with the mental side of training and competing (in CrossFit). I have often failed first in my mind, before my body even started failing, and the way this has happened is by me making up stories in my head and entertaining my fears. I would easily fall into the trap of giving my fears too much power. They would take over me before I even started (a workout, or a competition etc).
In the last few months I have actually been trying to train my mind alongside my body. (I swear the mental side of training is just as important as the physical side; you can’t have one without the other).
One thing I have been doing is a bit more reading. One great book I recently read is by Byron Katie and it’s called Loving What Is. Here is a quote that has helped me a lot:
“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.”
Although I still have a long way to go, at this point in my journey, I actually kind of consider it a challenge when an icky, fearful or negative thought creeps into my head. It gives me a chance to decide whether or not to attach to it and what meaning I will give the thought. Because it is, after all, entirely my choice what I want to do with that thought, whether I want to believe it, or just toss it aside.
One thing I have found that helps is to write my fears down, when they are getting to me. And then I apply the “so what” rule. “I’m worried I will be really shit at this workout.” So what? “I am worried I will fail that weight and I will look really stupid” So what? “If I can’t even get a top finish in this competition, it means I’m a shit CrossFitter & my whole identity relies on me being a good CrossFitter.”
...Ah. So that’s my problem. I self-identify as “special” because I am a CrossFitter, and if somebody thinks I’m not a good CrossFitter, I must therefore not be special. When I confront that, write it down and see it in black and white that way, I can see: if I attach my self-worth to something silly & external, it won’t ever feel like enough. I won’t ever feel like enough.
I must get past my idea of myself to get out of my own way: acknowledge other things that make me individual. I have a good sense of humour & am fun-loving. I can cook a beautiful dinner & bake pretty much anything. I am a good CrossFit coach because I understand people’s needs & can relate as I was once a beginner too, & things don’t just come “easy” to me. I can take a client of any age or gender for a training session and make them feel comfortable with me. I have patience & am personable with people. I am pretty tech savvy and am doing well with my online business.
Those things that make you different and unique are the things that are important. You should try it! My self worth should not have anything to do with how well I did in a workout, or whether someone beat me or not. When I can take these fears and self-doubts out of my training, that’s when training becomes a pleasure, it becomes about the journey, not the result. Then when something doesn’t go to plan, I can just apply my “so what” rule and move the f*&k on.
We all have a negative story that we’ve attached to in some capacity. A story or a thought, that when we allow it to have power, it makes us angry at ourselves, edgy and annoyed & it's self-sabotaging because we end up not living up to our true potential when we entertain them. It doesn’t just have to be about training or competition. It can be about body image, self-doubt, lack of confidence, blaming others etc.
“I’m a loser.”
“I can’t do anything right.”
“I’m not goodlooking enough.”
“I’ll never be successful.”
“I don’t "look the part".
“I ruin everything good in my life.”
“I’m a failure as a parent.”
“I’ll never get out of debt.”
“I have no control over my eating.”
“I’ll never be in a successful relationship.”
“I’m stuck in a job that I hate.”
These thoughts are just negative and icky and aren't based on any "facts", yet we repeat them so often to ourselves that we really and truly believe them–-no matter how far off from reality they might be. But we don’t have to give these stories power, and that’s where the “so what” part comes in.
Try my little “so what” rule next time you get hit with a doubt or fear, or a negative thought. Or maybe you have a different strategy? If so, I’d love to hear it!
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