So how do you handle defeat? What do you say to yourself when you don't measure up to your own expectations?
I've got a million examples! Hell when I think back on these past few years on SP, I see tons of examples where my eating, my working out, even my job performance didn't measure up to my expectations. And anyone who's never had to handle defeat has missed out.
The key is in how you handle it. If you're not careful, that feeling of failure can spiral into a whirlpool of self-fulfilling thoughts and actions that can be incredibly hard to climb out of. Like any good habit, the ability to pull out of that death spiral gets stronger the more often you practice it.
Which is why I like weight lifting! More than any other kind of exercise I've tried, lifting heavy weights pushes me physically, mentally, and spiritually to my limits.
And sometimes I fail.
It's not just a physical failure, though. If I don't make my goal for the day, it feels like a mental failure as well, a character flaw where I think, "I should have pushed harder" or, "I gave up too early" or "I'll never get this" or, "Man, I suck!"
Here's what happened to me yesterday;
I was on my third week of this weight lifting program called 5/3/1 (it's a great Strength Training program....details are in my old blog www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
This third week in each cycle requires you to do multiple repetitions at 95% of your maximum lift. My handy iPhone app (Big Lifts) does all the calculations for me, so yesterday it told me I had to squat 275 lbs for 7 reps.....Giddy-up!
After all my warmups, I got my mind straight, called over a young hulk to spot me, told him I was shooting for 7 reps at 275, and proceeded to squat.
I only got 4
What the hell! I looked over at my spotter and said, "Man, that's all I had in me today."
I immediately felt defeated, wondering what I had done wrong, why couldn't I achieve my goal.
I walked around the squat rack a few times, going over and over in my mind what just happened. Did I not sleep well last night, did I give up too easy, I should have pushed harder, maybe I'm getting too old for this stuff.....all those crazy, crazy thoughts that can race through your mind when failure rears its ugly head.
But SWMBO often reminds me, "You don't have any control over the first thought in your head, but you do have control over the second" and so I started to self-talk my way off the ledge. "OK, not so bad....still better than I did only a few months ago" and "Alright, you knew this wasn't going to be a linear progression every single week", "Got it, focus on form, keep at it" and, "Look in the mirror Dude, you still look freaking awesome....remember, 3 weeks ago, you lifted 915 lbs!"
So I resolved internally that this wasn't a failure, just a data point on a lifelong journey to living healthy....I accepted it for what it was, my best effort for today, a reflection of my abilities, not my inabilities.
As I proceeded to take the weights off the bar, something didn't jive in my head. I looked at my iPhone app....sure as hell, it said my goal for today was 7 reps at 275 lbs. That meant, two 45 lb plates and a 25 lb plate on each end.
I had two 45 lb plates and a 35 lb plate on each end....what the hell?!?!!?
I had just lifted 295 lbs.....20 more lbs than I was supposed to do for today.....no wonder I only got 4!!!
I crunched the numbers into my iPhone....lo and behold, lifting 295 lbs for 4 reps was actually better than lifting 275 lbs for 7 reps.....it required more strength.....Wahoo! Somehow I wasn't paying attention when I loaded the bar (or maybe adult-onset dyslexia set in) and I put myself in a tough situation.
Within a matter of minutes, my feelings of failure turned into feelings of elation, pride, and accomplishment....what a roller-coaster!
It seemed as though once I resolved myself to reality, to accepting life on its own terms, a pathway out of despair appeared. When we were kids, our Mom used to tell us, "Be careful what you say and think, the angels are always listening"
The universe reminded me once again that our thoughts are powerful, that HOW we handle and face life is much more important than WHAT actually happens to us, that the real keys to success are about acceptance of ourselves for where we are right now and to keep moving up from there.
Have a great day Spark friends!