“Yeah, but I’m different. It won’t go this way when I do it because I _______.”
“Ow! That’s hot!” Commence the eye rolling and I-told-you-so’s.
Such is the nature of dealing with a person who has a powerful capacity to tell herself it’s all going to be fine in the face of clear, reality-based signals to the contrary. The thing is, where my brand of self deception spurs me to (sometimes foolish) action, it imbues others with stagnation, which invites complacency. But there’s a line in the sand as fine as a gossamer thread, and we can stand to take a page from the books of people beckoning us or pleading with us from the other side.
You’re going for a new back squat 1RM. You rest your hands on the bar, each one a good distance from the center break in the knurl. You square off with it, at eye level, look at the clock to ensure you’ve had adequate rest between your last lift and this attempt, take a sharp breath, and duck your head under. As you receive this weight across your shoulders, what you’re telling yourself at the precise moment you’re settling under it is of paramount importance. If your mind is giving you “too heavy”, you’re going to psych yourself out and quite possibly miss the lift. You won’t go deep enough, you’ll bail on the way up, or worst of all, you won’t even try.
What we tell ourselves about ourselves and our experiences reverberates so often off the insides of our skulls that it becomes calcified; we literally train our neurology to accept it as true. This is powerful, as it can be used to accomplish fantastic feats or strip away our humanity.
Under the bar, this is where a generous sprinkle of self deception (“Psssh. Light weight. I got this.”) can be of great use.
IF you’ve been training properly for the weight you’ve loaded.
IF your lumbar spine is physiologically stable enough to support it.
IF you’re in the company of a dedicated, educated coach who can watch you for form.
Because if none of the above apply and you just go skipping under the bar all la-dee-da and damn the torpedoes, you’re going to get what’s coming to you – a failed lift at best and a serious, career changing injury at worst.
Impossible is something. At times you must strive, and at times you must accept; only a foolish person would strive against genuinely impossible odds or without any attempt at foresight. One cannot expect to infuse the blood of a lamb into a man and anticipate a positive outcome, no matter how driven and hopeful one may be. Good luck pursuing your dream of living off the grid and building a tiny house in 2-3 months with little money, a makeshift blueprint and no experience when it takes the pros at least a half a year to bang it out. This doesn’t make you daring and innovative, it makes you an idiot. You can’t get far without a plan whether you like it or not. Strivers, accept that impossible exists.
Conversely, you can have more than you have at this moment in time. But you have to be brave enough to shut down fears. Shut down your fear of disappointing others. Stop telling yourself there’s a perfect moment to start something and it hasn’t come up yet. Quit putting great on hold for decent, average, or good enough. End what needs ending. Start what needs starting. There is no such thing as maintenance, at least not maintenance measurable in months or years. If you’re not becoming a better version of yourself, you’re wasting extremely precious time becoming a hollowed out shell. Just because it’s the way it’s always been done doesn’t make it the best way possible. Look at what happened with Stephenson’s monkeys. Accepters, get out there and take what’s yours.
Truth is not infrequently more obvious than it is interesting, and maybe that’s why we’re prone to ignoring it. We know when a spade is a spade, and when we clear away all of our self-generated noise and BS, we can see it plainly. The truth isn’t always sexy or intoxicating, but it can only be ignored it for so long before it will start to demand an audience – if not to you directly, to those around you. It is the “sadder but wiser” (thank you Robert Preston) amongst us who knows when we are coloring truth with our own brush, and whether or not it’s appropriate to do it.
Today, make a plan or kill an excuse. Start small, but start.