If you are reading this, you are human. You have the brain capacity to initiate speech and make calculated decisions. You have opposable thumbs; access to research and incredible medicine. You have the ability to do whatever you set your mind to.
If you are human, you also come with limitations. You require oxygen, sleep, nourishment and community to survive. Without me presumptuously defining what you can and can’t do, I can tell you that you cannot live underwater (I know, I’m just as devastated as you #littlemermaid). You also cannot fly unaided, or shoot lasers out of your eyes, or rewind time.
There are limitations to what human beings can do, however those limitations are well above the ceilings of what we attempt to do in day-to-day life. As much of a freak of genetics as Usain Bolt may be, those human limitations we are programmed with still allow amazing feats of performance to occur in elite sport. Super powers would be cool and superheroes are excellent on the eyes #Thor, but the current society seems to be governed by a light switch, where there are only two possible planes of thought –
HAND 1 – Self fulfilling prophecy – what you think, you become. And a lot of the time, that’s failing. ‘I’ll probably just fail anyway, sooo I won’t try’. A choice is made here to be limited, incompetent, unchallenged. [pause for effect].
HAND 2 – You’ve lost touch with reality. There is this perception, whether spoken or not, that to achieve the next level of whatever you hope to achieve, we must transform ourselves into some superior being. We must be more than we are; exactly who you are right now is not enough. At the core of this belief is we aren’t accepting of what we are inherently capable of…
I have a strong belief that these two realms of thinking are based on a similar level of thinking. An expectation. ‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right‘.
Our physical attributes are simply the manifestation of our thoughts
The issue with BOTH of these belief systems is that your physical limits will be defined by what you allow yourself to think. So to use something I’ve seen in certain groups before, you need to get into a ‘state’ of being something exceptional in order to perform well and progress. THIS is continually reiterating that you aren’t enough in your physical human form, which is just as bad as continually squatting with knocking knees or bench pressing with rounded shoulders. It just affects your head directly, where squatting or benching badly might take a 6 month period before you see the negative effects…
If you think you have to be someone else, you-as-you-are will not succeed. You will constantly be striving for more. Where does that cycle end?
Further to that, you will limit your outcome by what you limit your imagination to. This more applies to the Hand 1 [Prophecy] example. To venture into a more focused stream of this topic, lets talk about strength training. Lifting weights. This limiting comes about when we label an exercise or movement as hard before trying it, you roadblock the mind’s ability to see a see a good outcome, but you’ve never actually tried it [this reads better if you can imagine me yelling it at you.. ha]
The common demon of this is front squats. Cool, they feel hard. There isn’t that much cushion on the collarbones to hold a weight, so they take some adjusting to. They’re uncomfortable and challenging, and uncomfortable is not something we like to experience (see Fear). I posted my own training video to set a ‘challenge accepted’ standard a few weeks ago when FS was an issue with a lot of people. I previously hadn’t front squatted since August 2016 and no more than 60kg for 5 reps, so I was trying something different, with no idea of how it would really turn out except that I’d try my damnedest to win! No expectation, except that I’d complete one rep at a time until I couldn’t do any more.
The original title of this blog was Achieve unlimited progress by limiting your expectations. By expecting one thing, we put boundaries on what can and will happen. The imagination no longer ventures into an area where there are other possibilities. It is an art to realise that expectations are just thoughts, and fear is just uncontrolled imagination. Halting expectations as they are created and removing their value is a very skillful art, but a practice worth developing.
This art is priceless. This is an exert from a client message stream about the changes to her training approach and results. A backstory – she had previously been training on a regimented strength program, had seen excellent changes to strength but plateaued, lost the love for training and after 4+ years was contemplating quitting the gym after another semi-productive 9 Week Challenge:
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Me: What was the turning point, because you’re a very different person now as opposed to when I first met you?
Client: Definitely.. back then my expectations were high, although I wasn’t putting in the effort. But still expected results. My motivation and passion wasn’t there because it really wasn’t a goal that resonated with me. I’m now generally happy with my body image (its taken years). I’m happy now not stressing about lifting heavy, but plodding away, feeling fulfilled and still getting stronger at the same time… I’ve also realised the goals I set are mine and I need to step up and own them..
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This is an example of someone who was continually limited her own progression by an expectation that things should be a certain way. She should be strong, she should be lean, she should be able to train these numbers by herself, she should want the end result of this program. Whatever the catalyst was to breaking those beliefs down, it doesn’t matter, but through conversation we made it clear they weren’t serving her and she needed to lose that system of thinking! Fast!
Put those constructed limitations in a box and burn it. Get some sparklers and make it a party.
Then, give equal intensity to your accessory work as you do your main lifts.
Allow yourself as much time in recovery as you do allocate to training.
Give your skin equal moonlight as you do sunlight.
Present yourself with the same love and compassion you do those around you.
Give yourself equal opportunities as you give others…
These are challenges few people accept. The challenges of living life and enjoying the process of whatever it is you undertake.
I would hear your thoughts.