Matter over Mind – Huh?
The common pairing of these two words is Mind over Matter. But, I’d like to argue that all too often our mind sets limits to which we unconsciously comply. The mind is the boss of everything we choose to do, and everything we ask of our bodies. So this blog is going to be about choosing ‘Matter over Mind’.
As an athlete and/or a high performer in life there are two main ways in which our mind inhibits us. But first, let’s ask ‘why?’
- Why wouldn’t our mind naturally choose to engage in behaviours that would have us be our best?
- Why is it more natural for our inner voices to convince us to stick with what we know, do what feels comfortable?
The theories suggest that it goes back to our prehistoric roots. When we took risks or pushed ourselves to the point of being physically uncomfortable, the results were often life threatening. Fire, natural disasters, extreme weather and giant predators took no prisoners. It was play it safe or die.
So, how does our mind hold us back?
One way our mind holds us hostage is by creating an inner voice that convinces us to avoid risk, avoid fear, and avoid discomfort, both physical and emotional. This voice goes by many names in the lexicon of coaching, such as “the Saboteur”, “the Gremlin”, “the self-limiting voice”, and “negative self-talk”. This voice has one main goal: Keeping the status quo!!! It’s working, right? You’re safe, why rock the boat. So, through words, rationalization and unconscious emotional responses, we play a smaller game than we need to.
The other method our mind holds us back is by convincing us we are more tired than we are. There’s a study of runners who ran 20km. The first half of the group ran on their own and the other half was connected to a machine that stimulated their muscles. At 15km the first group fatigued; however, the group whose muscles were being extrinsically stimulated showed no signs of tiring. In other words, the muscles were not actually as tired as the other group perceived them to be.
It goes back to that prehistoric legacy, that we need energy for any potential ‘fight or flight’ responses. “We are wired to leave something in the tank,” says sports psychologist Jim Taylor, Ph.D. “Years ago, when we hunted for meals, we needed to conserve energy to get back home. Our minds want to make sure we don’t fatigue completely.”
So the next time you think you can’t do something, ask yourself: Is this my mind inhibiting my body? Is this an opportunity to practice Matter over Mind? Getting Mentally Tough is training the mind to move beyond the comfort zone, and let yourself, and your powerful body find new and exciting limits. Then bust through them again!