I’m pretty good at making myself cry. I can sit in front of a computer and write about an upcoming powerlifting meet, and I can bring myself to the verge of tears while doing so. How? We’ll get to that.
I’m about to take a week off, barring a session on what will probably be Wednesday, in order to deload for this meet. I’ll do some work on squat and bench today, and that will be mostly it. I find that I tend to be mentally quieter in the period leading up to a meet–both inwardly and outwardly I become a bit more reserved. I haven’t updated my blog in a while and feel like I SHOULD do so but find that during the lead-up period to a meet I have a hard time talking about it extensively. I’ve really been searching myself and trying to be honest with myself about where this reticence is coming from, and I am relatively sure it’s a product of a kind of cycle. I don’t like to speak about my projections for a meet because I place SO much pressure on myself to make them that the idea of failing to do so–and others witnessing me doing so, and having to discuss my failure should it occur–is very repellant to me. Thinking about it makes me feel very uncomfortable and inclined to hide away from the lifting community until I just go and execute my lifts and compete.
What you can be critical of, reading the above paragraph, is how much it smells of fear. My hesitations and reservations as mentioned are sourced in a fear of failure, and fear will not serve me as I prepare for this meet. The first thing I’ve learned to do when confronting fear is to ask myself what will happen if the worst thing I fear happens. In this case, I must ask myself: what if I screw up at this meet badly? What do I MOST fear about that? I believe the answer to this is the idea of letting other people down, of feeling others’ disappointment in me. The fallacy here is that the only way anyone has a right to be disappointed in me if my performance is sub-par at this meet is if I somehow fail to make my best effort at succeeding. If I have a hangover the morning of the meet, you have reason to be disappointed in me. If I take care of myself in the best way I can before the meet and still do badly, you do not.
Whatever I do at this meet will be OKAY. It will be ENOUGH. I come from that fantastic camp of people who not only feel like anything they ever do is never enough, but much of what they do is egregiously crappy. Focusing on the idea that my best effort is enough–prepare yourself–actually makes me tear up. This is probably the case because I live under an enormous pressure of the kind of negative self-reinforcement pattern just described 24/7 in relation to almost everything I do.
That sounds a little extreme, doesn’t it? Well, it is. I will be the first to tell you that I have acknowledged that it is. I will then tell you that I wish to change it, but I know it’s going to take years to do so, because this mentality was built over years. To be honest, being aware of how unproductive my mode of thought is often results in my feeling flawed to an even further degree–I am aware that I move through life handicapped by myself. I do not place limits on myself, I exact expectations that are unrealistic.
You have to be aware of yourself mentally to a surprising degree to really excel in this sport. You do not have to be perfect–you have to know the mind you’re going to be using to animate your body, and you have to know its weaknesses. These are my weaknesses. I’m going to try, during the week, this time, to challenge my thought patterns. I will check in with a note as to how it’s going, and I promise it will be as honest as what I write here.
On a somewhat less pensive ending note, here’s an image from the article I wrote for Tribesports. I came up with a guide to my own initiation into powerlifting and a bit of introductory discussion of it for readers. Take a look at the article here: