Mind over matter: how I lifted 125kg without even knowing it
Our brain is a magnificent organ. Without it, we would die.
The most complex part of our body, it is responsible for every thought and action we have. It can retain and recall information, control voluntary muscles, balance, movement and coordination. It controls bodily functions such as digestion, breathing and blood circulation. It produces hormones that are vital for many systems of our body to work properly, and it controls our core temperature.
On top of all of this, it is estimated that we have anywhere between 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts every day. That’s around 35 to 48 thoughts per minute!
What an incredible machine we have inside our skulls!
But do we use it to its full capacity?
I’d say most of us don’t.
While there are many processes in the brain that we can’t control, we do have control over our thoughts. We can control what we place in there, what we give our attention to, and what we let run rampant.
Negative thoughts can choke us
Have you ever seen an overgrown garden? Grass grows through the garden beds — sometimes higher than your head. Weeds are the dominant plant, spreading with great ease. These weeds choked and sucked the very life out of the beautiful plants and flowers that once grew there. An overgrown garden is chaotic and serves no purpose at all.
Our minds can become like overgrown gardens if we are not careful.
If we don’t take the time to cut off the negative thoughts that we have, they soon take root inside and hold us captive.
Thoughts like “I can’t”, “I’m not worthy”, “I’m stupid”, “I’m scared”, “I don’t know”.
Some of the most powerful thoughts we have are negative words that someone else uttered to us once years ago, yet we replay it over and over in our heads as if it were truth.
“You’re no good”, “You’re useless”, “No one likes you”, etc. etc.
What we think about (or allow ourselves to think about) pretty much shapes our lives. If you don’t consciously think about anything, then chances are the negative reel of your thoughts is playing in the background anyway.
What we think, we become. What we dwell on, we attract.
Even thinking about what you don’t want to happen causes that very thing to happen.
If I say to you, “don’t think about a red car”, what do you immediately think of?
Yep, a red car.
How can we tame our thoughts?
It’s pretty impossible to stop thinking at all. How many times have you tried meditating and ‘emptying your mind’, only to start thinking about what you have to get done that day, or wondering what you are going to have for dinner? 1 minute, 2 minutes…5 minutes, if you’re lucky? And that’s when you are consciously trying to block them out!
So if we can’t stop thinking, how can we change our thinking?
Dr Wayne Dyer (who sadly passed away this year), was an internationally renowned speaker and author of more than 40 books, in the fields of self-development and spiritual growth, likens our thoughts to the stock market ticker that runs along the bottom of a screen, with each stock price representing a single thought.
With 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts running through our heads on any given day, this ticker is running constantly. We are capable of thinking many opposing thoughts within seconds. Sometimes we can jump from one idea to another and end up feeling fear, ecstasy, joy, worry and sadness, all within moments of each other.
In order to begin to tame our thoughts, Dr Dyer recommends we see our thoughts as things on a conveyer belt, continually running past us in our minds. Take a thought off the conveyer belt and see how it feels. If we don’t like the way we feel, put the thought back and take another one. Keep doing that until we find a thought that makes us feel good. Continually choose thoughts in this fashion, taking note of the ones that leave us feeling good.
If we see ourselves as having the power to pick and choose thoughts, based on how they make us feel, then we take great steps in preventing our minds from being choked out by the negativity that often runs unchecked through there.
Start to choose the right thoughts to dwell on, and our life will change for the better. Start to believe the positive thoughts we place into your mind, and we will start to achieve things we never thought possible.
The power when we believe we can do something
After training today, I realised the power of my mind. It was deadlift day and we are at the end of the program. We have one more week to go before we lift as heavy as we can for 1 rep. Today, my training partner and I were aiming to lift 115kg for up to 4 reps.
I was confident I could get at least 2-3 reps out. The week before, I had lifted 110kg for 4 reps. In my last training block, I managed 1 rep at 115kg before lifting my heaviest at 120kg. So I knew I could lift 115kg.
I went up to the bar, positioned my body, focused my mind and lifted. The bar came up, but not all the way up. I was baffled. Why couldn’t I lift it? I had a break while my partner lifted. He got out his 4 reps. I went back to the bar determined to get my deadlift all the way up, because I knew I could do it.
YES! This time it came up all the way. But I couldn’t do any more than 1 rep. Disappointed, I watched while my partner did his second set. I was determined to get 2 reps out next set. This was my third attempt. I was already tired after a full warm-up, but I knew I could do 115kg. Nope. Nothing left in the tank. I only got it off the floor and back down again.
I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get my full reps out when I knew that I had lifted it before. My partner and I discussed it, and we decided that our warm-up was perhaps too heavy, leaving us tired for our actual working sets. That made a little sense to me, so my disappointment abated.
This morning I took a photo of the weights on the bar, because it looked insane with all those weight plates on it. I’m glad I did.
When I came home, I looked at my photo and did a double-take. I counted the weights. I counted them 6 times. I asked my son to count them. I sent my training partner the photo and got him to count them. After counting 3 times, he confirmed what I had discovered.
We had lifted 125kg instead of 115kg!
That’s 15kg more than last week and 10kg more than we planned. No wonder it was heavy!
However, if I knew it was 125kg, there would have been doubt in my mind. 125kg is new territory for me. Until today, I’ve never lifted that heavy before. I would have gone up to the bar wondering how heavy it would feel; wondering whether I could lift it properly. I probably would have worried about failing to lift it. Those seeds of doubt would have continued to run through my mind during the lift, ultimately sabotaging my success.
But I lifted it because I ‘knew’ I could. In my mind, it was just 115kg. I had done it before, so why not again?
In the process, I reached a new PB without even being aware.
That’s the power of the mind.
Change your thought process
We have a phrase in our training group — “Don’t think, just lift”. That’s because when we think about how heavy our weights really are, we can freak out a little and seeds of doubt begin to sprout.
Sometimes if we think too much about things, we become overwhelmed with the ‘heaviness’ of the task. It seems to big, too hard, too impossible. We allow the doubt and negative thoughts to come into our heads. We can let great opportunities pass us by because we end up paralysed by fear. In those cases, it’s better not to think, but just get on and do what you need to do.
However, if we can take it a step further and take the time to sow positive thoughts; thoughts of “I can”, “I am capable”, “I am worthy”, “I am courageous”, and really believe we are those things, we will find that we can do a whole lot more than we ever could before.
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