We all have days that suck. Sometimes, you don’t feel as strong as you did the week before – maybe you’re just tired, or you are comparing yourself to someone else and not feeling up to par. Other times, you haven’t been following your diet as diligently and are starting to see the effects or feel like you messed up. And some days, you wake up and it just sucks for no reason – it happens to everyone.
It’s really easy to beat up on yourself, because you can get away with it. We support our friends or classmates – we’d never dream of putting them down, and if they aren’t feeling great we give them a friendly word of encouragement. But it isn’t so easy when it’s you! Try and think of what you’d say to a friend, if they were in your shoes, rather than the usual “I suck / I just can’t do it / I’m not strong enough” rhetoric.
Think of these things when you’re feeling discouraged
- We all start somewhere. Yes, even those classmates or athletes you admire. I know it’s hard to think of them as beginners sometimes, but remember back to your first class and how far you’ve come. See where you are now and look around at the new faces in your class – they’re probably looking at you with admiration and respect.
- It’s just one day! Don’t let one bad day, or even a couple of days, affect your entire outlook – start clean. Every day you get the unique chance to try again, so take a deep breath and move forward.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s so easy to look at a friend or fellow Crossfit classmate and think, why can’t I be like them? I know I do it; it’s almost second nature to size yourself up in any environment you find yourself in. But you’re NOT them, and you never will be. Take inspiration from them instead, rather than comparing yourself directly. What are they doing that you admire? Is it strength? Dedication? Apply that to yourself and use them as an EXAMPLE rather than a competitor.
- Remember that we are all in different places at different times. Everyone learns differently, grows differently, and pushes themselves differently. Some people can fight through pain and discomfort, while others need more of a nudge from a coach to keep going. Where you are on a given day is unique to you, and doesn’t make you any less (or better) than someone else. Remember how far you’ve come and keep going!
Channel discouragement into motivation
One thing I’ve started doing is identifying the triggers that tend to get me into a discouraged slump. Sometimes they are directly related to exercises (double unders), sometimes it’s more physical (I’m feeling under the weather), and other times they are more of an environmental cause (competitive folks in my class that I compare myself to and feel inadequate). All are valid! But what I DO with those triggers is what’s most important.
How can you turn around something that discourages you, and make it into something that pushes you?
Try and view each aspect of discouragement as a new goal. Here is the exercise I try and go through when I’m feeling down:
1. Exercise related discouragement
- Discouragement: Double unders! I can only do a few at a time on a good day, and they exhaust the hell out of me. I get frustrated having to scale workouts JUST for double unders when I am able to Rx the rest. I look around and see classmates doing them effortlessly, and I feel like I’m behind.
- Reality check: Those people in my class nailing double unders? They didn’t pick up a jump rope the first time and just start pounding them out. They started out just like me, and worked hard to get where they are now.
- Opportunity: Clearly I need to work on double unders! I’ve started making it a point to work on them for a few minutes after each class. I’ve already noticed an improvement – and every time double unders appear in a WOD, that’s just more motivation for me to chip away at that skill so I can hit that Rx button sooner rather than later.
2. Physical discouragement
- Discouragement: Feeling under the weather. I have a cold, or I tore my palm the day before, or I ate poorly and didn’t drink enough water. You know those days.
- Reality check: It’s not forever! I may feel shitty today, but that doesn’t mean I’ll feel like this the next day, and the next (unless you’re super sick). But even still, these conditions are temporary. As hard as it is to envision feeling better when you feel awful, you do get there.
- Opportunity: Just try and do my absolute best knowing I’m not at 100%. If it’s an injury, I bubble it up to my coach so they know I may need to modify – but otherwise, I just keep it to myself. I’ve found the more vocal I am about not feeling great, the more it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. If I walk into class complaining how I didn’t sleep at all the night before and now I have zero energy, I’m going to be less likely to push myself, and more likely to “write off” poor performance because of an excuse. Just get in there, do your best whatever your current circumstances are, and look forward to better days ahead.
3. Environmental discouragement
- Discouragement: Someone in my class is very competitive, and publicly puts themselves down for not achieving as desired – think “I can’t do my usual 30 pull-ups today, I’m such a loser.” Well wait – I cant even do half that amount of pull-ups, so they probably think I’m actually a loser!
- Reality check: They don’t. They don’t even care what I can or can’t do.
- Opportunity: Tune them out! It’s not easy, but I have to remember that I’m here for me and me only – I don’t need to impress anyone. And I don’t know this person – they are probably dealing with their own discouragement, and they work with it differently by expressing it out loud or joking about it with friends. We are all different and recover from doubt in very different ways. I may not like how their way makes me feel, but I can’t let it affect me or my progress.
For those days that DON’T fit into the above 3 categories …
Let’s be real. Every now and then, you have a really shitty day and you just need to LET it be shitty. Slam a door, frown a lot, sympathy eat a bunch of ice cream and sulk a bit. You know what? That’s okay. Not every day is a day that’s meant to be turned around, and we’re all human. Just pick back up tomorrow, and shrug it off.
How have you dealt with discouragement? Any tricks for overcoming bad days that have worked for you?