Stop Saying “I can’t”

 In Stuff We Say

The best athletes in the world hate a phrase that YOU, more than likely, have said! It negatively affects your performance in the gym. It makes you unhappy. It makes people around you unhappy! I’m talking about “I can’t.” Here’s why you should never say it.

Your negative thoughts can affect the way you perform in the gym. Recently, I was attempting a PR for my back squat. I told myself, “This is going to be heavy.” And it was. I failed on the attempt and felt sorry for myself. After hard work and a few months of training I was up for a 1RM back squat once again. This time with a positive attitude, saying to myself, “This is only one rep! It’s only going to hurt for a little bit!” Sure enough, I lifted the weight recording 20 pound PR! No doubt the training helped, but so did the mentality with which I approached the bar. In The Journal of Sports Psychology, scientists conducted a study in regards to self-talk and balance. They asked 125 undergraduate students to fill out a questionnaire in regards to their self-talk during a balance test. The study found that those who used positive self-talk did better, even those that didn’t believe in its effectiveness! This is a profound finding and should make us reconsider how we talk to ourselves. Ghandi pretty much summed it up in one sentence: “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, and your values become your destiny.” What destiny are your thoughts leading you toward?

Here’s another reason you shouldn’t say “I can’t”: It will make you unhappy! Whenever you say “I can’t do this” or “this is going to suck”, you are correct! That is exactly what is going to happen. In her article “How Your Self-Talk Can Make You Happier and More Productive” psychologist Winifred Lender explains, “self-talk does more than narrate events; it can predispose us to experience the world in a certain way. We tend to seek out experiences that confirm our self-talk, thereby making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.” The worst part is negative self-talk can begin to lead to more severe problems. Linder also stated, “a continual pattern of negative self-talk is characteristic of individuals with anxiety, depression, and insomnia.” Who needs that?

The third and perhaps most important reason to keep positive is it helps your relationships. Chances are you know a person who is always saying “I can’t” or complaining. Do you enjoy being around them? Do you seek opportunities to spend time with this person? More than likely you avoid them. We should all take a hard look at our attitudes and strive to keep them positive! You’ll not only be making yourself happy, you’ll be making others happy too and improving the quality of your relationships.

CrossFit can be intimidating, but we have an awesome community that encourages us to keep trying. It’s alright to be afraid to fail but don’t be afraid to try. If you are unable to do something today then believe, if you do the work, tomorrow you can. Lastly, remember your attitude is like the aroma of your heart. Make sure it is smelling good!

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