There is a person inside of you that is always rewriting history. That is always comparing yourself to others. That is constantly worried about what other people think. That prevents you from learning because it tells you that ‘you already know this’. That is sabotaging your future self by trying to stay comfortable now.
(Read Time: 4:30) TL;DR Notes:
The first way your ego gets in the way is when you start ‘cherry picking’ workouts because you know you won’t do well. Your ego will give you a list of excuses for why you shouldn’t come in that day. Because you are sore. Because you are tired. Because you have a ton of stuff to do… The real reason is that your ego doesn’t want to be in the uncomfortable position of doing something you aren’t good at. It doesn’t want to be the last person in the class or the one scaling everything. It doesn’t want to lose to someone else, shattering the perception that you are ‘top dog’.
The next thing your ego does is stop you from learning. It tells you that ‘you already know this’ so there is no need to practice it more. It says that ‘you don’t need to learn that new skill’ because it isn’t important. Just like in the ‘cherry picking’ example, it is trying to avoid the discomfort of admitting that you aren’t as good as you could be. That you still have a long way to go. That you have to suck at something before you can become competent, and you have to be more than competent before you can really master it.
Then there are days where you feel you are pretty decent at what is scheduled for class. Your ego will start to look around the room at the other people and worry about what they think. It will say ‘they are judging me for not doing this well’ and ‘they are looking down at me because I am scaling’. Your ego will make you feel bad for using the right movement/progression, and try to get you to do more than you should.
In the middle of a metcon, your ego will say that everyone else is going faster than you. That maybe you miscounted and there is NO WAY you are that far behind ‘so-and-so’. It will tell you to stop the set you are on because you MUST be finished.
It will tell you that other people must be shorting reps occasionally too. It will try to get you to notice when someone else isn’t hitting full depth or full lockout. It will tell you that it is okay if you ‘miss’ a few reps because ‘everyone does it’.
After the workout, your ego will prevent you from posting your score until you see what everyone else has posted. It will prevent you from posting it if it is ‘too bad’. It will tell you that you mis-remembered your time/score and that you did better than you actually did.
Your ego will tell you that it is okay to have that treat and that you can eat better next week. It will say ‘you deserve this because you worked so hard in the gym’. It will tell you that you aren’t losing weight because of some issues out of your control and not because of your food.
The worst part is, your ego is trying to protect itself and it is harming YOUR progress. It makes you feel bad during the moments when you are doing the best thing for you. Over time, the ego will keep you from moving forward and make you look for scapegoats for why you aren’t progressing.
First, you must acknowledge that your ego will always be there. It will always seek out comfort and it will always be worried about what other people are doing and thinking. Start paying attention to that voice and telling it to ‘f*** off’.
Cultivating an attitude of ‘no fucks given’ with regards to your ego will help you look at things from a new perspective. It will help you observe things as they truly are and not taint your perception.
The reality is that the workout you want to avoid is probably the best thing for you. That the people in class aren’t really paying attention to the weights and progressions you are using (and if some are, who cares?! That is their own ego). The reality is that you really are on the rep you think you are, and that other people aren’t shorting reps or ‘adjusting’ their score.
The reality is that your performance that day, your ‘score’, is just a snapshot of where you are at today. It is not a measure of you as a person. It is only important to your future self to help you see progress over time.
After you have begun to hear your ego, and to see things as they truly are, you must foster an attitude of learning. Become the constant student.
Document. Document. Document. Keep a journal of your performances and lessons learned. Approach every day as a day to practice skills already started or learn new skills not attempted. If you observe others, it is to learn from them what works (and what doesn’t). Always push yourself to find the better way, the way that will make your future self more amazing.
Stop listening to ego’s voice in your head. Better yet, do the exact opposite.
If you want to know more about ego and the growth mindset, check out this article.
(And you can pick up one of those nifty doormats here.)