This article aims to highlight the dark side in order to get you on the right side!
Last summer, the CrossFit Open seemed a million miles away, the sun was shining, the PBs were flowing, and so were the Instagram posts of food prep, summer abs, multiple daily training sessions, quotes and goals of smashing the 2018 Open season out of the park.
Fast forward to today. We are right in the middle of The CrossFit Open.
For some Athletes, they are feeling anxious about the fear of being able to deliver what they promised in earlier social media posts. The only relief is to quit right? Pray for a injury or some other good excuse perhaps?
Ok, we get it, this sounds a bit extreme and maybe even harsh. But the truth is, that in the world of Crossfit, this sequence of events is occurring and the consequences can be exceptionally negative to both performance and personal self worth.
Not always, but in general, most social media projects a false sense of confidence, cherry picked clips and photos of all the insta love that removes an athlete from the day to day grind of hard work and the numerous hours of sweat, tears, pain, endurance, discipline and hard work. The technology presents a neatly packaged end product (a snatch PB, a shot of finishing a marathon etc) whilst detaching the event as an isolated incident, separate from the actual amount of work and effort that it took for the athlete to get to that point.
This can create false illusions.
THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON GOAL SETTING
Like anything in life, the internet has pros and cons. It provides access to an unlimited amount of knowledge and the potential to connect with people all around the world.
However, what is becoming more apparent in the Crossfit world is the darker side of social media in the form of constant exposure to unreal expectations. This can have poor effects on personal goal setting, achieving goals and the like.
WHY HIGHLIGHT THE NEGATIVE SIDE OF SOCIAL MEDIA?
As coaches we witness (and deal with) the effect that social media has on the passionate and driven humans that we work with.
The false expectations that are being placed on Athletes (by themselves for the benefit of followers, likes and sponsors) is hijacking their goals.
With the goal of optimal physical and mental fitness in CrossFit, and the awareness that the internet and use of social of media is continually evolving, it’s not about not acknowledging it or avoiding but becoming aware and getting real with it.
There are principles to human psychology that are what they are.
THE FEAR OF FAILURE
The fear of failure is instinctive. It comes from the lower part of our brain that hasn’t evolved for millions of years it reacts instinctively Fight, flight, freeze. This made sense and was lifesaving when we was running around barefoot chasing our food (or being chased by it).
We also feared being excluded from a Community, because this was essential for homo sapiens to survive. Exclusion would lead to the reality of having to face a cold, harsh, cruel world (in an evolutionary sense) alone, and the chances of survival would be slim.
We were (and still are) biologically hardwired to crave sugar and fat because they both provide the body with an abundance of energy. Both were also incredibly rare resources for the average neolithic man, so a strong desire to seek them out would have powerful evolutionary benefits for survival.
We also craved love, acceptance and acknowledgment, and the need to be accepted by the community. Flash forward to 2018. We live with an abundance of food at a tap of a button. We will never be eaten by a sager tooth tiger. Pursuing our true passion does not carry a serious risk of death through social exclusion. In short, the consequences have been greatly diminished in their seriousness, but these prehistoric and primal human instincts prevail.
ITS NOT PERSONAL – ITS A BAD HABIT/ADDICTION
Yet we react this way subconsciously. We often fuel our minds and time with social media as a way of seeking social acknowledgment and acceptance.
If you’re not careful, then your goal can become chasing that dopamine fix from likes. Or on the other hand, it can carry the opposite effect of worrying about not being good enough if you don’t get enough likes or the fear of seeing another Athlete lifting more than you, or looking leaner, or hanging out with athletes you want to hang out with.
This can cause unnecessary anxiety and release the stress hormone cortisol into your body, all from the safety of a horizontal position on your couch. All whilst you are not getting any closer to your own goals.
HARNESS THE POSITIVE
Just like any habit, if we acknowledge it for what it is, we have the power to decide if it is working for us or against us.
If you are an athlete and have inner confidence, nutrition, programming and mindset all dialed in, then you will understand the necessity of staying in your own lane and being able to focus on your own goals. To be candid, it is practically impossible to completely avoid comparing yourself with other in your social peer group. But once this is understood it can be controlled, limited and used positively.
TAKE THE POWER BACK
Take your focus away from the device and back to yourself. Stop comparing yourself with other on social media and focus on yourself.
You are driven and passionate and now is the time to get real with your current standard. What you can improve upon in the remaining few weeks of The CrossFit open (and beyond)? How can you achieve those goals.
No-one else is going to move that bar for you, your followers wont be doing your reps for you, and neither will your sponsors.
Truth be told no one cares about your goal more than you.
ACTION CHECKLIST – DECIDE AND TAKE ACTION
Get accountable (this is the non shiny shit you don’t see on insta). Its not easy but it’s worth it, get real with your OWN data.
Rank yourself from 1-10 in regards to the following areas:
- Physical Health
- Mental Strength
If you give yourself a 4 (or other low score) for nutrition then that’s OK.
It is what it is and we can’t turn back the hands of time, but you can decide today (right now) to make this a focus for your progress in the future. For the remainder of the Open, eat well and think about how to fuel your body properly for performance and recovery.
For the other categories, look at where you feel you are strong and where you are weak. Where have you scored yourself well or poorly? Write these down then put them to one side until the Open has finished.
For now, attack each Open workout and have fun. Ignore your percived strengths and weaknesses and give it your everything.
Let the WODs reveal weaknesses that you can then work on in the future. The Open is a time when you should demand more of yourself than you thought possible. Use the workouts to help you redefine where you think your limits lie.
Don’t let other scores around you influence you too much, especially on social media.
Focus on your own game and enjoy social media for its benefits. Stay light-hearted with it, don’t take it too seriously and have fun! Try to analyse and pay attention to your own feelings if you feel that you are relying on it too much as an influential aspect of your own progress.
Look out for part 2 – actual habits and principles that will benefit athletes mentally and physically ‘No fluff or Hype’.