Push it to the limit

“Go to the edge”, “Give it 110%”, “Dig deep”, I could go on and on. We hear lines like these before we even trade in our Velcro sneakers for lace-ups. The idea is to encourage us to defy our boundaries, push past barriers, and generally go beyond our current capabilities.

That’s all well and good, but no one really talks about the process involved. I think that since most of us get the point of the aforementioned statements then why don’t we explore what’s going on upstairs? Maybe if we were willing to share our own experiences we could more readily encourage others to "give it all they've got".

I’ll start.

From as far back as I can remember, I was very impatient with myself. If I found that I was having difficulty with something, my reaction was to get frustrated and give up. This mentality limited me from ever really giving myself a chance to succeed in sports, school, and with the opposite sex. My self-defeating mindset persisted until my early twenties.

Maybe it was latent changes in the neurological configuration of my brain, a spiritual awakening, or the basic fact that my life had become unlivable, but I eventually did get to a point where I was self-reflective enough to at least see what was going on. One significant part of this process was taking a Sport Psychology class while going for my under-grad degree at U.F.

Listening to the professor expound upon the psychology of sport successes and failures my now-receptive mind was illuminated. There was a clear correlation between how someone thought and how they performed. In a nutshell, the “winner” mentality tended to internalize success and externalize failure. The “loser” mentality tended to externalize success and internalize failure. It dawned on me that during all those little-league games, PE classes, and after school sports I was cultivating a “loser”. My goal was determined then and there, I would be a “winner”, but not just in sport, in life as a whole.

“Winning” as it turns out is not easy. “Losing” is easy. When the going got tough, I got going, end of story. “Winning” took a more determined approach. I felt like there was a Gordian knot of self-limiting thoughts, beliefs, and real physical tension that needed to be untangled. Like a crusty hermit crab, I had grown comfortable (albeit unhappy) in my barnacled shell and leaving it was painful and scary. Unlike a hermit crab, however, I wasn’t wearing only one shell; I was laden with a multitude.

I found that shedding my “shells” required being in the present moment. Not tied up in the past, not floating off in the future, but here and now. By getting in the now/here (as Dr. Wayne Dyer puts it) I was empowered to face each “shell” on its own terms, grit my teeth, and pull that sucker off. Practice makes better and I started to lighten my load with each success.

I’m still pulling shells off and I don’t really know if the process ever really ends, but I’m O.K with that. This brings me back to my original point about “pushing it to the limit”. To me, my limit is different every day. I’m dealing with elusive boundaries in my mind as well as my body. These borders ebb and flow within an ocean of possibility and create ever-changing landscapes that are mine alone to explore. This is both thrilling and terrifying, but ultimately I have found a deep satisfaction in the process.

Sure there are days when I don't feel like going to my edge, but that in and of itself can be a different sort of challenge. According to Steven Covey, balancing courage and compassion is the definition of maturity and finding that balance between work and rest can be just as challenging as a running my fastest mile.

What about you? How do you “push it to the limit”?

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About Tony Fed

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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