Mental Toughness Life Skill #3– Using Positive Self-Talk and Visualization (Part 5)

index 7(This is part 5 in this series on how to break the negativity in your life. Let me remind you all that it isn’t realistic to think that you can completely get rid of the negative thoughts in your life. They will always be there. What you want to do instead is to counter-attack the bad thoughts in your head with positive self-coaching. This is not an easy thing to do if you spent most of your life being a sad sack cynic. However, with lots of practice, you can acquire this vital skill in your pursuit of becoming mentally tougher.)

As soon as the negative bickering starts to proceed in your regular life, recognize it. Identify it as the beginning of the negative onslaught and immediately replace them with positive thought patterns. Unlike your WODs which you have a time constraint, you have plenty of time to re-word your positive thinking process while facing down the adversity in your personal life. Again, sometimes it as simple as replacing negative verbs patterns like “I can’t” to proactive verb formation sentences like “I can,” “I will” or “I must.” It sounds easy, but you will be met with a lot of resistance and be replaced by an avalanche of negative dialogue. This is normal so don’t get discouraged. The effort of at least trying to be more positive is the first step. A huge step for many of you who have lived in the pessimist world for most of your adult life.

To sustain positive self-talk, it takes practice like everything else. What really helps is to break the down the adversity into smaller and more realistic goals. By making the goals manageable, you will definitely will feel more optimistic than having to face the problem as one huge headache. The more optimistic you are, the better you can maintain your positive self-talk skills over the long haul. If you are still having a difficult time getting into a positive state of mind as you begin to attack your personal adversity, there’s one thing you can do that have always worked for me. What you want to do is to try to shift your mental perspective so you can see how the negative in the adversity can be changed to a something positive. Again, if you have read my last two blogs it is all about how you interpret a problem that is the key. Weak people are intimated by challenges; while those with a strong will embrace the upcoming hardship because they know there is a huge gain at the end of the dark tunnel.

The best way to get into this frame of mind is to see how getting through any major obstacle will be a invaluable learning experience for you. This ever so slightly change of viewpoint will help you get through the adversity especially when more setbacks start to get in your way.  If you know there is a huge positive payoff at the end of the outcome, you will more likely be able to take the bruises and bullshit along the way. You have to constantly remind yourself during the WODs that every time you get through a workout, you will get mentally stronger, you must do the same in your personal life as well. Every action you do towards getting over your problems must be seen as one step closer to mental improvement. Every personal accomplishment must be seen as a huge contribution towards your mental strength development.

Being positive alone won’t make the whole bad experience easier, but having a positive frame of mind will help push you through it, especially during the long dark periods when things are going way, way wrong. Having the ability to keep on going when things are close to fall apart is the pact created by those who are mentally tough. You got to be prepared for the situation to actually get worse, before it gets better. Like cancer, many rounds of chemo will make you feel sick as shit before you feel better again. You just have to remain as aggressive as possible as you hunt down the obstacle, even though ever new day seems to be shittier than the previous day. When your life is going down the gutter and you are close to losing everything, you got to have the same mentality of a solider under heavy fire. You have to keep moving forward and keep on shooting. No matter how many bullets you have lodged in your body, you must never take your finger off the trigger. The same goes for in life. The more you hurt, the more action you must take.

You got to combat hard. You can never be timid nor can you ever just be passive like a lame duck with a huge target on your head. You got to keep on going and firing at the enemy until he finally gives in to your relentless purist.

Knowing that you can’t be stopped no matter how emotional wounded you are is what being having a positive mind set is all about.

This mental toughness training is all about helping you get to this invincible state of mind.

(To be continued)

Today’s CrossFit WOD –

5 sets

20 burpees

400 meter run (depending on weather)

I have yet to meet anybody that enjoys burpees. From experienced CrossFitters to top level conditioning athletes, any WOD with a hundred total reps burpees will make anybody sick to their stomach in anticipation of the upcoming misery. I don’t care how fit you are. A hundred burpees is still a hundred burpees. There’s no avoiding it. This WOD is going to suck bad. So to help you neutralize the mental agony of doing a ton of burpees, I highly recommended you break down the burpees to sets that you can handle. For example, instead of being mentally worn down with the daunting task of doing 25 unbroken burpees, break it down to doing two sets of 10 reps. By making the set more attainable, you will calm your mind and prevent you from freaking out before starting the WOD. This training is about teaching you to view any challenge as something you know you can beat. Breaking down a brutal WOD or personal problem to mini-goals is one way to do this. You always want to approach any adversity as something you know you can overcome.This is the positive mindset that I am advocating and not the rah-rah “You can do anything if you are positive” bullshit that many self-help advocates preach about.

After you do the first set of the burpees and the 400 meter run, you will feel like you need an oxygen tank to help you finish the WOD. You will be gasping heavily for air, your leg muscles will be burning and your mind will come up with dozens of logical excuses for you not  to continue with the workout. So accept that the self-whining is inevitable and be ready to counter it with your positive visualization technique. Mentally seeing yourself doing the WOD has an immediate calming effect on the mind and your soaring heart rate. The more your negative thoughts try to get you to surrender the fight, the more specific you must get with your visualization. Seeing yourself continue the WOD in a strong manner is one of the best way to make the negativity shut the fuck up.

But, don’t watch yourself too long. The problem some of my clients have with their visualization technique is that they spend too much time indulging themselves with their vision that it just becomes another form of procrastination. The longer you wait to begin the next set, the more draining it will be on you mentally. A good general rule is that when your breathing slows down to being normal, start the next set.

Breaking down sets to attainable goals and using visualization technique may sound overly simplistic, but they sure do work. This is the same mental procedures that navy academy teach their young SEAL candidates in dealing with the physical strain and pressures of SEAL training. What they do is a billion times tougher than any 20 minute WOD on this site.

If it works for the toughest group of bad asses in the world, I have no doubt it can work for you as well.

Scaled back version of this WOD:

1.Do the burpees without the pushups.

2. Lower the reps of burpees per set to 15, 10, or 5.

3. Run or walk 200 meter instead.

Acceptable alternatives:

1 You can jump rope or run on a treadmill for a minute.