“Learning to stop negative internal voices has tremendously positive implications for anything you ever want to do in your life.” ~ Greg Glassman, Crossfit Founder
I just finished a half marathon. The last time I ran one the Walkman was the main music engine and this thing called an iPod had just been launched. (That last sentence makes me sound so old… yeesh). One thing I particularly noticed was the majority of people run with headphones. I did not run the half marathon with a group and I tried to strike up conversation wherever I could. I only spoke with a few people. For most of the race, since most people were buried in their headphones, I actually took to tweet and converse with friends and family. (@mikeypiro by the way).
Since I had a few hours to reflect, I thought hard about the quote above from Coach Glassman. I have been going to Crossfit for about two years now. I credit Crossfit with assisting me in my final push to get off medication. I still rely on Crossfit to purge my mind after a long stressful day. But I think that one aspect Coach Glassman is not explicit about in the quote above is the importance of external voices and community to help when those internal voices start to bring you down. Every once in a while the internal voice need the external voices. Whether that is in therapy, screaming encouragement from the sideline of the races, or during the end of a WOD, those voices need to connect.
In the past the most dangerous place I could be was in my own head. I wanted to escape and avoid the barrage of negative thoughts. It proved nearly impossible to do alone. I leaned hard on my family, my friends and my therapist to talk about and work through everything that happened between my ears. One of the most successful therapies I completed, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, essentially forced my internal voice out. I then listened to it over and over. It helped me realize over time that the emotions bundled along side my description of a traumatic event warped my perceptions. Before I sought therapy and long after returning from combat, those perceptions and experiences greatly and negatively impacted how I thought and acted.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep the internal voice positive and challenged. I returned to the quote above because I recently found myself coasting or dogging my Crossfit workouts. “That is good enough” or a split second thought of “Shit we are only half way done” was not only killing my scores, but effecting my world outside of the workouts.
There are many justified reasons for pulling back from time to time. But, when I stopped challenging myself, my self esteem and mood suffered because of it. After a few particularly difficult workouts, I knew I had to really search inside to rework my internal voice. I also knew I could rely on my support network to encourage and motivate me.
The last mile of the half marathon again tested the tone of my internal voice. I focused on the positive affirmations. I listened to the cheering crowds. Thanks to that mindful effort I finished and felt great. I wish more people would put away their headphones and let the voices merge. It is great practice for when you are all alone.
7 Down, 4 to go. Thanks for reading.