Every single CrossFit athlete knows the feeling of pain and suffering during a really hard WOD. Those negative thoughts of failure that crawl up your neck and ingrain themselves into your brain.
- “You can’t do this”
- “You will never finish”
- “If you skip one or two reps, no one will notice”
- “Take the easier version, you won’t feel so much pain”
- “Just give up and it’s over. Right here and now and the pain will end”
Every athlete feels like this once in a while, but it seems like CrossFit athletes are especially prone because their workouts demand so much from them regarding physical and mental strength.
HOW TO COUNTER NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
Luckily there are some pretty easy psychological tricks you can apply to destroy these negative thoughts and stop them harming your confidence and performance.
1. BE INSPIRED BY YOUR FELLOW CROSSFITTERS
You know what one of the best parts of CrossFit is? The community. During a real hard workout it’s time to use this to your advantage.
In CrossFit we earn each others respect by going all out during a WOD and trying as hard as we possibly can. There may be people in your box who are not able to finish a certain WOD during the designated time cap. But more than once you may have seen them finishing a WOD anyway, even after the time has finished.
Or you have that really strong guy or girl at your box who does things you thought were impossible. Both of those are inspirational in their own way because they are pushing it to their very own limits. If you find yourself feeling terrible during a WOD, thinking you can’t go on anymore, take a look around you. See anybody else quitting? No? Then you shouldn’t either.
Be inspired by the other athletes at your box – you can’t read their thoughts, but you will see a mixture of suffering and willpower in their eyes. Use this for yourself and crush that WOD.
2. ADOPT A HERO-VERSION OF YOURSELF
The second option is fun: adopting a secret identity. As Jane McGonigal writes in her book “Super Better”, a secret identity helps you to practice your own strength and willpower whilst also reinventing and exploring yourself.
Therefore, think of a hero you want to be, like Hulk or Xena or Iron Man or any other character from your favourite book, movie, video game or the like and use him or her to create your own secret identity by displaying your own strengths. When you feel like you can’t go on anymore during a WOD, think of your secret identity as a mantra, something like “I am the mighty XY and I will do everything to get stronger and slay the WOD-monster.”
This may sound silly at first, and of course you don’t have to scream this out into the world. But by saying this to yourself, you are programming your brain by positive affirmation. By adopting a secret identity on top of this you will feel like a different person, a hero who can conquer any obstacle. So, have fun, go crazy and invent that super hero version of yourself before your next WOD – and as a bonus you can write something like a symbol or the name of your identity with chalk on the floor to make yourself remember it.