Positive Mental Attitude
I’m not much for warm and fuzzy pep talks. I believe motivation must first come from within. With that being said, I do believe practicing visualization and self-talk can help you get and maintain a positive mental attitude, which can make a big difference in your life.
I know some of that sounds weird, especially the self-talk part. I’m not advocating that you hold people’s hands and tell them how they are “good enough, smart enough and doggone it, people like them.” I, personally, would much rather give you a gentle kick in the backside as motivation. Given that, a positive mental attitude through visualization and self-talk is not lost in my tough love approach.
I felt compelled to write this after a tough weightlifting session and the conversation I had with Zach and Shad afterwards. Long story short, I had a goal I wanted to hit for a snatch double off the blocks. After about 20 minutes of missing my lifts over and over again, it wasn’t looking like I was going to hit my goal weight. It wasn’t as if the bar felt heavy or I was really tired; frankly, I just couldn’t get my head out of my ass. Eventually, thought,I hit my my goal weight.
What I attribute to finally being able to hit my goal weight for that day was visualization. I sat down on a bench, closed my eyes and visualized hitting the lift. And as sad as it sounds, when I first sat down started visualizing, I kept seeing myself miss the lift in my mind. How stupid, right? Finally, after 4 visualizations, I finally hit the lift in my mind. The rest is history. I hit the lift on my next attempt and hit my goal for the day.
Later Zach, Shad and I had a conversation about perception being reality and mental reps which brought me back to my high school baseball days.
In the 1988 World Series Kirk Gibson hit a home run in Game 1 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Gibson, pinch hitting for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth inning with injuries to both legs, hit a two-run walk-off home run off the Oakland Athletics' Dennis Eckersley that won Game 1 for the Dodgers by a score of 5–4.
The story goes that Kirk had been in the training room receiving treatment on his bad knees for the whole game when he got the word that he would be hitting. He took 10 practice swings and walk right out onto the field. When asked about that homer, he said “What you do in those situations is try to visualize a moment, you try and script it. It’s a positive thing, a positive outcome. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I’m hurt, this isn’t going to be good.’ It’s ‘I’m going to go out there, they’re going to go crazy, I’m not going to hurt, it’s going to be me and Dennis, and I’m going to get it.’ ”
Which brings me to a high school baseball coach of mine that was a big Kirk Gibson fan. Before every home game he would make everyone go to the batters box one at a time and close their eyes and visualize hitting the ball up the middle for a single.
Sounds weird, right? Well it felt weird to a bunch of high schoolers.
I’m a believer in many cases that perception is reality, because if we believe in something we make it come true through our belief. For example, I personally like to max out wearing my virus pants. Do those virus pants make me lift more? Are they made of some magic PR fabric? No! There’s nothing special about them. But if I believe that I lift better in those pants then by me simply believing in those pants puts me in a positive mental position. I don’t know if the story is true but I heard Albert Einstein wore his socks inside out. When asked why he did this, he said it brought him good luck.
Now this doesn’t mean that I should only wear what I think makes me lucky - in fact, quite the opposite. I should see my superstition for what it is and put that belief in myself and put myself in a positive mental attitude.
So often people get down on themselves and beat themselves up over stupid or trivial things. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Along with believing in yourself and visualizing your success before it happens, create a mantra for yourself and say this mantra when you are struggling in a workout or when your boss gives you a whole bunch of work to do or when some task seems insurmountable. Mantras that I like to use are “this ain’t s!#t”, “I got this”, or “too easy”. Find one that works for you.
Yes, I know it might seem trivial and un-important to use visualization and positive mental attitude for the world changing pursuit of lifting weights off the ground. There’s no huge earth shattering importance to lifting weights but I’m a firm believer that what we do in one aspect of our lives (fitness) carries over to the next. The mental techniques we use in the gym just might transfer over to our work lives or our family lives, which ultimately help us be a better employee, better son or daughter or better parent by believing in ourselves and spreading that attitude on to others.