In this multipart series, Andrew Bernstein, author of The Myth of Stress, presents to CrossFit athletes and coaches his process of dealing with stress.
In Part 7,the group analyzes a new stressful situation: “I should be the best right now.”
Bernstein allows the participants to individualize the stress they feel about striving to be their best and feeling like they aren’t there yet. Using the worksheet, they work through the problem, describing their feelings and actions stemming from the stress. As they flip around the sentiment to negate it, they hit a potential problem. Saying “in reality, at this time I should not be the best” feels demotivating and defeatist to the group.
“It takes a little bit of practice doing this to trust the process enough to see that’s not where it actually goes,” Bernstein says.
“It’s like a muscle that’s never been stretched, you know, and this asks you to stretch it in a way that’s awkward, but when you do a few of these and you understand what ‘should’ means and what this asks you to do, it makes more sense, and it will actually start to seem really cool,” Bernstein says.
In Part 8, Bernstein asks the participants to list reasons why the statement “in reality, at this time I should not be the best” is true. It’s an uncomfortable but constructive task for the group. According to Bernstein, finding reasons why you fall short helps you find ways to improve.
“When you realize ‘I did my best and now I’m going to find out what I didn’t do right and practice that and train that and do even better,’ that’s a clear mind,” he says.
“We’re just trying to see reality,” Bernstein says. “This will help you get honest with yourself.”
Additional reading: The Positive Impact of Physical Fitness on Emotional Fitness by Dr. Brooke R. Envick and Rick Martinez, published May 25, 2010.