How To Develop a Better Mindset for Crossfit and Stop Sabotaging Yourself

Self sabotage is any behaviour, thought, emotion or action that holds you back from getting what you consciously want and are working towards.

Self sabotaging our own efforts can happen to the best of us. Emotionally imploding, quitting, complaining, comparing ourselves to others, doubting and procrastinating: Sound familiar? continue reading and see if you can relate.

We all have those good times where everything is going well:

  • The stars have aligned and you’re on the way to achieving your goals even surprising yourself by surpassing them
  • Stuff that felt hard and heavy feels effortless and light
  • You have qualified for a comp, your weights are increasing, your technique is on point or you’re killing the ring muscle ups.
  • You have been committed to eating well and rocking up to the gym focused work life
  • Your fitness, family and friends all in perfect harmony 

until…BAM! The negative emotions start:

  • You have a bad day at work
  • you miss a lift
  • raid the sweet cupboard and nail a tub of Ben and Jerrys
  • start scrolling through Instagram and feeling worthless and not meeting the standards your expectation requires because now you have seen another human far away has a perfectly filtered PB lift that you want, and a thousand more followers.
  • Or your training partner is on a roll and you’re feeling guilty for that pang of jealousy you feel and the hope that they miss that next lift!

Why when everything was going so well does it suddenly feel like your world has come crashing down on you?

We start blaming and complaining: ‘I am changing programs to so and so…this nutrition plan isn’t working for me…why wasn’t I born with shorter arms?’

self sabotaging performance
Dealing with negative emotions is part and parcel of being human.

We also start looking at others. Its ok for them, they have more time than me…they are more talented blah blah blah. The pity party begins and its real, we feel it right? This means that we have just jumped head first out of our own Lane!

How to Cope With Fear and Anxiety in Crossfit Workouts

But what if it isn’t real? what if this is due to the lack of building mental muscle!

Are you are self sabotaging your own efforts?

So wtf is self-sabotage? I mean, no one would go out of their way to do this to themselves after all the hard work they put in would they?

The answer is no. Its all to do with the mind: our built in limits and subconscious beliefs that we don’t come across unless we are trying to better ourselves as humans. Ultimately it is the subconscious mental barrier between the comfort zone and where the magic happens.

Self – sabotage is any behaviour, thought, emotion or action that holds you back from getting what you consciously want and are working towards. Moreover, it’s the conflict that exists between conscious desires and unconscious wants that manifest in Self –sabotage patterns.

It not only prevents you from reaching your goals but also plays a part of a safety mechanism that protects you against disappointment.

Basically this means your brain is protecting you from getting hurt by doing what it thinks is best – which is to keep you feeling comfortable (can you see where the problem lies? Trying to move out of the comfort zone isn’t as easy as a hashtag)

Limitless Coaching

This isn’t based on how intelligent you are, how much you want to succeed, or the hours you put in to training.

If you’re not adding mindset training alongside your physical training then you won’t be as well equipped to deal with any of these negative, ‘self-sabotaging’ behaviours that can occur. You spend time training and conditioning your body so why not do the same for your mind?

Listen to Sara Sigmundsdottir talking about all her mental worries during workouts and examples of how self-sabotaging behaviours and thoughts have affected her in the past.

To hear Sara reflect and talk openly about the importance of training the mind confirms, for those sitting on the mindset fence, that this is real and that it should be added into your training.

Internal emotional manifestations Of Self sabotage:

  • Fear of failure
  • Self doubt
  • Constant negative self talk
  • Being overly defensive
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of focus
  • Not being able to see a situation for what it actually is.
  • The sudden urge to quit
  • Worrying constantly
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Having unrealistic expectations
  • Critically judging others or ourselves
  • The habit of perfectionism
  • The habit of procrastination
  • Feeling mentally and physically fatigued and in a funk

Ok, so if any of these feelings sound familiar to you, what’s the next step? How can they be countered?

Crossfit athlete after wod
Push your body, develop your mind

How to combat Signs of Self-sabotage

Now you can get real with yourself.

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.

Athlete mindset coaching isn’t a “one size fits all” solution. what works for one athlete may not work for another.

‘Adversity introduces a man to himself’ Albert Einstein

If you are serious about developing your mind for training and performance, the first step is to invest in a coach who specialises in athlete mindset. Yep that’s right, invest in yourself. Book a session with a coach, either remotely or 121, and get working. 

If you are not in a position to be working with a coach yet, here are a few suggestions to get you started and to help keep the self-sabotage to a minimum.

Identify your WHY

As an Athlete, or someone training for fitness, you should have your goal written out. Alongside your goal should be your WHY. This is why you are dedicated to reaching your objectives. Your WHY is your commitment and reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Track your data

Your data is important. You need to keep a diary of your training. This is important not only for physical reflection, but for mentally reflecting on your real progress. This shows you how far you have come and works as a tool to push through limiting beliefs and the comfort zone. It also makes it easier to track your progress and celebrate the small victories along the way.

Be accountable for your own actions

Now you know what self-sabotage is, you will start to become aware of it happening. Hold yourself accountable for what it is and ask yourself is this real? Or am I in the process of sabotaging myself?

Know your triggers

Take time out to reflect and focus on situations where you may have self-sabotaged. Be honest with yourself. Patterns can usually be identified. By knowing ourselves and our own habits we can identify the triggers that can cause these negative and damaging thoughts. This allows us to be better prepared for any future sabotage.

  • Get your training partners involved. Tag them in this article and help each other accept accountability
  • Remember that its ok not to be ok. This is not about avoiding negative emotions but acknowledging and overcoming them
  • Get out of the gym. Rest with purpose and reconnect with friends and family. We get so busy being busy, that we often forget what’s important
  • Take 5-10 mins daily to watch, read or listen to self-development related content. There are multiple books, podcast and audiobooks so take the time to feed your mind
  • Breathe and believe. This isn’t a overnight job.  Trust the process have fun with it where you can
  • Learn to let Go. The tool of letting go is universal and beneficial to any human on the journey to reaching their goal
  • ACTION ACTION ACTION. No matter what, keep moving
  • REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT all the above as frequently as possible. Just like mastering a bar muscle. Practice makes perfect.

Knowledge is power if applied otherwise its just information.

Follow warrior programming and Limitless coaching for daily knowledge and programming on the physical and mental aspects on training and drop a message for info on seminars/talks and programming.

Crossfit Training: Mental Conditioning & Goal Setting


self sabotaging performance © Ryan Edy

Limitless Coaching © Limitless Coaching

Crossfit athlete after wod © Ryan Edy

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About The Author

'Your Strongest Muscle and worst Enemy is your mind you must train it well' Co writing articles with Paul Warrior. Emma Hackett is a Life Coach, Mental Strength and Conditioning Coach, NLP practitioner,who has combined her passion for Sport and Knowledge of the mind and now works with Athletes as a drop in Peak Performance Coach at Reebok Crossfit Tyneside and City of Newcastle Gymnastics Academy alongside running Limitless Coaching her Life ...

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