By definition, the ego is comparative. It compares us to other people or circumstances around us. It causes us to define ourselves based on what is going on with other people, objects and places. Which, left unchecked, can be a very bad thing. If you are solely defined by outside forces (people, places, objects) the results can be catastrophic. The good news in this whole debacle is that you can have control over your ego! You can! It starts with recognizing the situations and thoughts that are egocentric and making an effort to change.
Easier said than done? Let’s start by highlighting a few ego statements to recognize where your ego takes over in the gym. Then we can make progress!
“I used to be able to ____, so I should be able to _____ today”
Fill in the blanks. Coming back from an injury? Remembering how fit you were in high school? Looking at pictures before you had kids? You are comparing yourself today to a version of you that doesn’t exist anymore – and never will exist again. That is our human condition. Nothing stays the same forever, including our bodies and health. It’s a hard reality to grasp, but we all need to come to terms with this truth. Comparing our performance in the gym today to how we were 10 years ago needs to stop. You cannot change yesterday, only today. Do your best today; give 100% effort. And then do it again tomorrow.
“I’m too out of shape to ______”
As a fitness professional, this is one of the most saddening excuses to hear. Yes, you might be too out of shape to do a muscle up or handstand push-up but you are not too out of shape to START. Whatever “shape” you are in, you must begin somewhere if you need to change. I know paralyzed men that work hard every day to just lift their hands. They are not too out of shape to try. And neither are you. You just need to start somewhere, period. What your ego is telling yourself is, “I’m not good enough.” If you have ever told yourself this statement and haven’t done anything about it, please get in touch with us. We want to help.
“I should be setting PR’s every day”
No. The answer is no. This ego trip will get you hurt. If you throw a temper tantrum when you miss a PR attempt or cuss out your shoes when you don’t hit your one mile time, you need to check this ego at the door. Strength and conditioning, technique, and body awareness take time. Pushing the limits can be a great thing, but it’s not the only thing. During your training your body goes through ups and downs, peaks and valleys. That’s why our programming includes recovery time and cycles. Every day will not be your best, and you need to be ok with that. Again, give 100% today. Many of the strongest athletes even reset their “PR” every year to remain grounded.
“I’ve been going to the globo/planet/world/open24/7 gym for years and I’m in great shape. I’m frustrated and angry that I can’t _______”
This is a very common and sneaky ego trip. It’s like saying, “I’m a great basketball player. I’m frustrated I’m not a good football player.” Obvious, right? Not always. Guys are especially prone to this one. They’ve been programmed that bicep curls and tricep extensions are markers of “good” fitness. But get into a CrossFit box and you will quickly find out that fitness is defined VERY differently for CrossFitters. Yes you need strong biceps and pectoral majors, but there’s a lot more to being fit than just strong muscles. Leave this attitude at the door and you will find yourself growing, learning, and progressing faster than you can imagine.
“I’m not going to do CrossFit until I get in shape”
What?? I don’t understand this. CrossFit is a highway to drive to achieve and maintain fitness – not a destination to end up at. You’ve been misinformed by media or other people that you must be super sexy to start CrossFit. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This thought process is a symptom of “I’m not good enough” ego that you need to let go of.
“I’m injured so I can’t do anything”
Yes, if you are injured you shouldn’t be doing much. But there is almost always something you can do. Similar to the “I’m not going to CrossFit until I get in shape” ego. There is always something you can be doing, and if your CrossFit coach is worth two cents, they can help you discover things you can do. (And always consult your doctor, obviously)
“I’m not as strong/fast/lean/sexy as __(other person)___”
One of the most common ego trips we have. In and out of the gym, our culture is immersed in this egotistic mind-warp. Novels can be written about this topic, but to keep it short; Stop doing this. Especially in the gym. The beautiful part about CrossFit is that with consistent training, this part of your ego will lessen and become more mature. Talk to the oldest person in your box, gain some perspective. In CrossFit, you are only competing with yourself; so make each day better than the one before.
“I’m not losing/gaining fast enough”
At some point in time you decided for yourself how long it would take to change your weight/size/shape. But how did you come up with the timetable? Did you consult a professional? Or multiple professionals? What about your nutrition? Your sleep? Your hydration? I’m just putting it out there, but there is a good chance your timetable is either 1) inaccurate or 2) completely unrealistic. Just because you have a wedding in 2 months, doesn’t make it a realistic goal to lose 30 pounds to fit into a dress. Please, take a realistic look at your goals and talk to people who know what they’re talking about. You should ask at least 2 other people help you set your goals.
“CrossFit is a cult.”
Get over yourself. If that seems harsh, sorry I’m not sorry. There’s also a good chance you suffer from one (or more) of the ego statements we’ve listed already. I’ll admit CrossFit training isn’t for everyone. But it is designed so that anyone can CrossFit. Get it? Communities are built with like minded people – whether that’s a book club, church, business, music group, or CrossFit box. Our lives our richer and fuller because of the communities we are involved in, and CrossFit is a great way to get active in a community. The statement that CrossFit is a cult is ignorant and immature.
“I’m injured.” “CrossFit injured me.”
The final result of our ego taking control. These statements come after one or more of these ego statements run rampant in your training. If you train too hard, with poor form, with inappropriate workouts, you can injure yourself. But don’t blame “CrossFit.” You have control over your training. You need to take responsibility for your actions and workouts. Ask more questions before you get injured. Scale the intensity back. Use lighter weight. Spend more time on technique. Be more patient with the process. And yes, there is a chance of injury. There always will be. The only surefire way to not risk an injury is to sit on the couch and eat cheese balls. Just don’t roll an ankle walking to the fridge.
Stay humble, and check your ego at the front door.