We've all heard the quote, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't-- you're right."
But what if that's wrong? What if we're wrong?
The quote represents how powerful the mind can be-- how important attitude is-- but it's not exactly that simple.
Sure, all that positive self-talk can overshadow negatives. You're in the middle of a workout or hitting a challenging lift or movement, and mentally you embrace it... the difficulty, the suck. You reject the possibility of failure. You succeed on the edge of defeat.
But sometimes you think you can, and you still fail. And there are other times you think you can't, but you were wrong. You actually could. And you did.
In past articles, we've examined nutrition, recovery, and much needed mental health time with friends and family. We've examined reasons for such success, some of them including commitment, motivation, and even embracing failure.
Yet another item to consider is one's attitude... how a positive outlook can overcome small speed bumps in training, but how a backhanded slap of reality is a useful tool as well.
Let's face it, not everything can come up roses each week in your fitness journey.
Telling yourself "That wasn't good enough" here and there can have its merits. Not accepting anything less than your best, and being able to call yourself out at times, can be just the thing your mind and body need. A swift kick in your own ass. Yes, admitting defeat here and there is fine; knowing when it's smart to throw in the towel, at least for the time being, is an overlooked attribute. Yet there's that fighting attitude that has to accompany it-- going home beaten, but pissed off.
"I may have had an off day but, dammit, I'm getting after it next time around."
You can't teach this with coaching cues, really. It's not easy to sell... to explain to someone, "Get some aggression!" or "Fight through... stick with it!" It even looks silly in writing. But it is a learned behavior. Skill and strength development can foster this attitude; it can grow in conjunction with experience, in 4/4 time with confidence. Once the mechanics of something like a lift or a gymnastic element are learned, we can see that glimmer in the eye... that fight festering behind pursed lips. It's this attitude that exposes itself during PRs, during that gritty time of a workout where the lungs are panting no way but the mind takes over.
And to go to that place, to reach that feeling of "I got this," it simply can't be understood by others who have never been there. It's a drive so natural yet so difficult to attain.
Magical? No. Just hard work and a fierce appetite for accomplishment.
It's when a shared attitude, a shared vision exudes in the gym that personal empowerment becomes a common characteristic. Drill-after-drill, rep-after-rep, this stuff matters. Evolved into the group attitude of such a community is an unrelenting lifestyle of devotion. It's contagious, remember?
That said, let's make sure we differentiate having an attitude that's gritty and determined from one that's self-deprecating or even attention seeking. That type of behavior is draining for a community, and isn't fair to yourself in the long run. Cut out the negative talk when it's not necessary. Stop searching for validation if it's really not required. Put in your best, week after week, and it becomes increasingly apparent when your self-talk should be positive and when you need to simmer that smile and get down to business. Raw and unadulterated hard work breeds self-awareness.
So dive within. Find that flowery, positive thing to focus on when necessary. But check yourself in case some steel-toed hell is needed instead. Stay positive, and a little pissed, and reap the mental gains.
Positively pissed... it's there you can't go wrong.
- Scott, 8.18.2013