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How do you Handle Setbacks?

It's easy to do everything right when everything is going right. When you feel like you are in the zone and things are coming naturally, almost effortlessly. You know what I'm talking about - when those snatches feel on point, when the gymnastics stuff feels a little better than normal. You get a little boost of excitement and motivation; "Oh, maybe all this extra work is paying off! I suppose I can do a little bit more.." 

But what about the times when nothing is going right? Or you have a significant setback like an injury that is keeping you on the sidelines? That's what I'm more interested in. How do you handle yourself in these scenarios? What do you tell yourself? What mental games are you playing?

If you've ever experienced a significant injury then you definitely know the feeling. You desperately want to get back in the gym to play with your buddies. The thought of not being able to lift is killing you. Have you ever experienced this? 

Unfortunately, our brains default to a very negative state: "I'm going to lose so much of the progress I've made" or "everyone is going to get so much better than me." In the extremes you might even doubt whether you'll be able to make it back at all. The key is to realize that this is just your subconscious self protecting your ego. 

Think about it, we are a very proud people - our main desires in life are to be successful in whatever we are doing. Obviously, a significant injury or setback will hurt our chances of being successful, especially when it comes to fitness. Our subconscious realizes this so it builds a hedge. "If I stop myself now, at least I have an excuse for why I wasn't successful." "Let's not risk giving it another shot and failing."

If these kind of thoughts are happening, or have happened to you, don't get down on yourself. Realize that these are natural, it's the mind's natural way to protect your ego. It doesn't want to let you down. So the key is to understand it, accept it, and tell it that your OK trying and failing. You won't be ashamed. But that is easier said then done, right?

On the surface, of course. Anything is easier said than done. But I do think there is some hope and easy actions you can take to build momentum. I love the small victories theory - when things are negative and not looking so good, don't think about the big picture. Just worry about small victories, doing whatever you can, regardless of the size or scope of it. Some examples of small victories could be getting your diet back on track one meal at a time, just going to the gym to do some mobility, starting the process of a rehab procedure, etc. Do little things that will build momentum.

The other thing you can do, which is tough but totally doable, is to train your mind to be more positive about the situation. Figure out what the benefits are (there are always benefits). For example, if you can't lift weights for 30-60 days, your body and CNS is going to get super healthy and totally recovered for when you get back in the gym. If you can't use your upper body, you can focus on your lower body and vise versa. If you can't do anything, you can focus on other areas of your life such as personal or work. And then do your best to invest time and effort into whatever positive areas you've identified. 

Do you guys have a favorite strategy or mind trick to avoid mental struggles? We'd love to hear what struggles you guys are facing and how you handle them! Comment below!

 

April 20, 2018 by Jason Yule
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