Your mind can be your greatest enemy or your greatest ally, it’s up to you; and what you let it become can be the deciding factor between a good performance and a great performance. Mental toughness like many other skills in life, can be learned and must be continuously reinforced if we don’t want to lose it. However, it is extremely difficult to teach. Coaches, mentors and peers can help us work towards it but mental toughness is something we need to develop from within and it an ongoing process that we cannot build overnight.
Think back to past events when you felt as mentally prepared as possible and tried to remember what you did to get yourself there. It will come down to 4 things that to me are the pillars of mental toughness.
3. Composure Under Pressure
Over the next four days, we’ll go over each one of these in greater detail.
Our beliefs act as ‘filters’ for our brain and they can dictate the information we process by determining what we consider to be important information. “Knowing” you can do something is one of the first steps to accomplishing it, while “knowing you can’t” is a belief that often precedes failure. What this means is that our beliefs are self-fulfilling and we often put mental limitations on ourselves even though we are physically 100% capable.
Lets try an experiment.
Don’t think about how you are breathing….
….Chances are you thought about it, it’s pretty hard not to.
”Am I breathing loudly?” “do I normally breathe this fast?”
Something that moments ago was seemingly effortless and totally irrelevant to your conscious thought process is now dominating it.
The moment you say ‘don’t do x’ ‘I can’t do y’ or ‘I hate z’ your focus shifts to exactly what it is you DON’T want to do, and this increases the likelihood that you are going to do just that. By reframing the same idea into something positive and focusing on what you WANT to do, you will increase your chances of succeeding.
The next time you are in the middle of a grueling and mentally tough workout (like a 7minute Burpee AMRAP) instead of “Don’t Quit” try “Keep Going” instead.
Our own self-talk and personal beliefs play a huge role in our success rate, and if we can reprogram our brains to expect the outcomes we want & believe in our ability to attain them we are two-steps ahead of anyone who believes they can’t (even if they are the ‘better athlete’ on paper). That being said, two things to keep in mind
1) You have to actually have confidence in these beliefs (i.e. you can’t just ‘say them’, the words are meaningless if they are empty)
2) These beliefs have to be within reason (it doesn’t matter how strongly I ‘believe’ I can fly, if I try to jump from a high object the only place I’m going is down).
3 rounds for time
10 Front Squats (135/185)*
200 Meter Run
*1st rep in each set may be a full squat clean
Hope is independent of the apparatus of logic.
– Norman Cousins