Friday 26 June 2020

Feeling Like a Failure?

These types of feelings suck! And the problem is the negative self-talk we have with ourselves multiplies faster than rabbits. Now what? How do we stop feeling this way? We don’t want to but when we don’t feel motivated, compare our current lack of accomplishments with our past accomplishments, compare ourselves to others, feel like we can’t do anything right, and so on, we can feel like a failure and hopeless about our situation. Can that change?

Let’s look at the definition of failure. Do you define failure as not accomplishing a goal/task or is it more not even attempting to accomplish that goal/task? This author advocates the latter definition: giving up. While it’s common not to complete a goal, the issue lies with the person feeling like a failure because they interpret their action/inaction as their identity. Take for instance a bodybuilder competing and not winning the overall to get their Pro card. Are they as a person a failure?  Many may believe so but I respectfully disagree. That bodybuilder failed at their goal of earning their Pro card but that does not make them, as a person, a failure.

Consider the scenario of a bodybuilder who wins their category yet still feels like they are “not good enough” or downplay their success. Likewise, there are bodybuilders who don’t earn their Pro card or don’t win at the higher level Pro shows but are very successful individuals.

So how should you feel when you don’t achieve your goal? You can feel disappointed, frustrated, confused, and perhaps even angry as you have a right to your feelings but avoid taking it personally. Not achieving your goals is simply that; not achieving your goals. Nothing more; nothing less. Now you may need to re-examine your goal and make appropriate adjustments but keep in mind the purpose of your goal. Is your purpose extrinsic, i.e., to get sponsored, or intrinsic, i.e., to challenge yourself on how you can change your body over a set period of time? Intrinsic motivation is healthier because it’s about your self-growth; it’s for you. Often people fall into the trap of doing things to please others and that becomes their main source of motivation. These “people pleasers” struggle with feeling successful as it’s determined too much on what other people think. Do these types of people have any recourse? Absolutely!

There is a concept called self acceptance and forgiveness. Often, we suck at this too but it can be done. A first step is rewiring our brains about what failure means. I can’t quote where I read this but it’s very fitting: “I will have temporary defeats in my life but I will never have permanent failure.” This statement alone gives us an “out” in that we don’t have to be perfect; we don’t have to win all the time. We just need to know how to pivot our goal, our mindset, our assumptions, our definitions, our methods as we always have the power of choice. Don’t give up! If you need help, reach out to a professional. They can help you develop a healthier mindset, one that will lead you to more actionable success and feelings of accomplishment.

Difficult situations can define us, diminish us, or develop us but we ultimately decide so choose well.

Friday 19 June 2020

Post-Traumatic Growth: The New Norm after COVID-19

COVID-19 has shaken our ways of knowing and doing things to the core. Feelings can range from helplessness, shock, denial and disbelief. Our behaviours can be affected as well, i.e., getting easily confused, having difficulty focussing, and experiencing insomnia. Coping reactions can range from identifying with various possible negative outcomes to feeling detached. The question most often asked is “What is wrong with me?” Be aware that reaction is normal given the circumstances of an abnormal situation created by this pandemic but there are ways to transcend the negativity and feelings of helplessness.

We’re living through a collective trauma, but we don’t have to bow under its weight. Think of an earthquake. Do you live beneath the debris or do you build something that is better? Trauma’s power comes from rendering us powerless. It’s time to retake our power. How? The answer is reframing! By reframing your negative experiences as ways to achieve greater self-awareness and heightened compassion and deeper/more meaningful relationships both with others as well as with yourself. Post-traumatic growth is finding new meaning in your life. This could include changing how you conduct your business, changing your career, having a renewed appreciation for life and developing a plan on how you will try various opportunities, reconnecting with people after years of not communicating, learning a new skill or hobby, re-evaluating your short and/or long term goals, giving back to society in some way, and so on.

There is the expression to make lemonade out of lemons. Despite the sacrifices and/or suffering we endure, we can ask ourselves how can we emerge from this pandemic stronger and kinder than before?

I will end with a quote by Robert Leahy, PhD., New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center: “‘view this pandemic as a chapter in a book you are writing - chapters always end and if this is your book then how it plays out is totally up to you.”

Happy writing!

Friday 12 June 2020

Lagging body part = your mind

People in general can be their own worst enemy and bodybuilders are no exception. We tend to be very aware of our flaws but do we do everything we can to address these flaws? Let’s examine that.

If I were to ask a bodybuilder what’s their weakest/lagging body part, they could name it immediately. If I were to ask a bodybuilder whether or not they have been eating on plan, they could answer that quickly too. If I conducted a poll among bodybuilders about what they struggle with the most during their competition prep, many reply that the mental piece is tougher than the physical piece. The physical piece of what to eat, how much & when as well as their training regiment is more ‘black or white’ in that it’s more clear cut; however, the mental piece holds a lot of grey.

Mentally preparing for a show has many challenges in the best of circumstances but add lower carbs & calories and feeling depleted into the mix and the ability to think clearly and rationally tends to decrease and we tend to gravitate towards ‘emotional logic’. The problem is that logic is usually missing from ‘emotional logic’, which can consist of listening to people who are not your coach (assuming they are knowledgeable & competent), following what other athletes are doing based on what you see on social media, comparing your current progress to others who post on social media, etc. Emotional logic focuses on where you’re not and being open to ‘doing whatever it takes’ to get the result you want. That desperation can lead to making choices that hinder more than help.

Now there is an element of logic in seeing what you need to do to improve. A lagging body part can be addressed with adjusting your training and likewise a diet can be adjusted based on your current macros and putting them in line with your goals. If you need help with either scenario, you can and should consult with your coach. Similarly, I recommend you work with a mental game coach to help you if you struggle with the mental aspects of prep. This can include but is not limited to doubting your prep, coach, and/or exercise/diet plan, doubting your progress and worrying that you won’t be ready on show day, fearing that you won’t be “good enough” especially if you know you’ll be competing against someone who has beaten you in the past or even just comparing yourself to the pics on social media, overtraining, training after an injury, difficulty dealing with distractions (e.g., relationship issues, Covid-19), overanalysing everything, fearing letting others down, and the list goes on.

Like preparing for a competition, mental prep does not begin during peak week. It’s a process in that it takes time to learn how to exercise the mind properly. To get what you’ve always gotten, keep doing what you’re doing. If you want to improve your mental game, work with someone who has expertise in this area to guide you on proven strategies to elevate your performance and results.

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Crisis: What’s Your Move?

What is a crisis? The dictionary cites a crisis as “a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger.” That does not sound good. The pandemic is one such example but there are many others. We don’t want to feel stressed; it doesn’t feel good and can be debilitating. We often ask ourselves why this (crisis/issue) had to happen? We assume no good can come from it. Or can it?

Do we choose difficulty? No. Can we grow from difficulties? Yes. Our experiences, both positive and negative, help shape who we are, our thoughts, how we view the world, our choices, etc. Problems make us grow; they mold us into who we are today.

We have a choice: are we a victim or a victor? Despite the crisis and the associated fallouts, do we allow ourselves to become buried or do we slowly push the rubble aside to make a new path? In this respect, a crisis can be viewed as an opportunity. Without the problem, there would be no need to change what we’re doing and sometimes we settle for where we are rather than push ourselves to achieve our potential. Thus, the problem is a gift, an opportunity to do something different and thereby experience different results.

Our entire life can change in one moment. Do you know how to pivot towards positive change? Ask yourself what is one area in your life that needs improvement? What do you need to do or change to make that happen? Are you committed to going outside of your comfort zone, what you are used to doing? If you keep doing what you have been doing, can you get to where you want to go? If not, what are your obstacles? How can you begin to address these obstacles? What is one thing you can do right now to take one step closer to where you want to be? Make a decision to take action now. It doesn’t have to be a big step. The action could be drafting a concrete plan of action.

Life involves many hardships, and while we may not choose them, we can choose how we respond to them. Life isn’t about what happens to us; life is about what happens for us. No change? No breakthroughs.

Now get out of your head and comfort zone and make lemonade out of lemons. The choice and opportunity awaits you so take it!