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Miki Tips: When The Going Gets Tough

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The parable goes like this:

A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other.  One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear.

The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second, then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”

The grandfather quietly replies, “The one you feed.”

Navy Seal Commander Mark Divine talks about this in his book, The Way of the SEAL. He calls them the Wolf of Love and Courage and the Wolf of Fear. The Courage Wolf resides in our hearts. The Fear Wolf lives in our minds.

Which wolf are you feeding?

My training these days has taken on a new intensity. Not because I’m suddenly doing tons of volume, or lifting heavy every day trying to “crush it,” whatever that means. No. Instead, these days I’m feeling challenged by trying to master new movements and pushed by higher expectations of my abilities. In the process, I’m discovering new things about myself, most of which is exciting and joyous! But I’d be a liar if I didn’t confess that I have also uncovered a few fears as well.

We are all familiar with that particular feeling of dread that creeps up on us when faced with an extremely difficult or challenging WOD. Put “Fran” in the programming and suddenly our hearts are pounding, our palms are sweating, and we start making excuses before we’ve even performed the first thruster. Fight or flight response, right?

But what if we could take that energy and turn it into something positive? Jim Afremow, in his book The Champion’s Mind, defines mental toughness as “the ability to remain positive and proactive in the most adverse of circumstances.”

Learn to think more positively about yourself and your abilities. Combat negative self-talk by tapping into your why. Change your attitude towards the really tough stuff – the stuff that scares you – realizing it is only through trying our absolute best and failing that true growth happens. And embrace the suck. Be willing to sometimes take a risk or you’ll never know what you’re actually capable of achieving.

There will always be fears and insecurities to face as we push ourselves to become our best selves. And it feels ballsy to take ownership of your success. But mental toughness is built on doing the thing that is hard over and over again – exactly what we have the opportunity to do in CrossFit, IF we choose to accept that challenge; and IF we choose to feed the right wolf.

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