4 Powerful Ways Athletes Overcome Self-Doubt - Swolverine

Most people start sports because they love the challenge. They love the mental, emotional, and physical challenges sports present because it forces you to grow. Stepping outside of your comfort levels and pushing past boundaries can be exciting! But what happens when it becomes too challenging? You know, that moment when you're looking to step up to a new PR weight, and you freeze. You're overwhelmed with self-doubt, negative thoughts, and before you even touch the bar you know it's not going to be a lift you make. This is where our 4 powerful ways athletes overcome self-doubt and we're going to teach them to you step-by-step in this article so you can crush the weight and not let the weight crush you.

How Self-Doubt Destroys Confidence

Self-doubt is the exact opposite of confidence. When you doubt your ability, your talent, your practice or your competition, you're not confident. It's really that simple. But what are you to do about it?

We beckon you to ask yourself the question: am I doubting your ability or your confidence?

Sometimes those thoughts get so loud in your head that your confidence becomes crushed, your motivation goes away, and you may even stop going to the gym altogether. However, it is in these moments of darkness that we must crack to allow the light back in, gradually opening back up to possibility, to self-confidence, and facing our fears of a letdown and failed expectations. 

It’s time to overcome self-doubt to unleash your true athletic potential.

4 Powerful Ways Athletes Overcome Self-Doubt - Swolverine

Step 1: Shut Up the Negative Committee that Meets in Your Head

Learning how to silence your inner critic can be one of the most profound interpersonal growth tools you may ever learn to use. When you can see an opportunity with confidence you’re most likely going to spend more time getting excited about the opportunity ahead as compared to convincing yourself otherwise.

You don’t like, nor tolerate when other people bully you, so why do you do it to yourself? You were born to be real, not to be perfect. The courage to do so doesn’t always roar loud and wide for all to hear. Quite often the courage it takes to face adversity, overcome, and to pursue grand ambitions and goals comes from that small, quiet whisper from within, that has the most power over your actions and outcomes.

Stop beating yourself up so hard about breathing harder during a workout than you expected, missing a lift, or getting time capped. Since when was the competition the root of the reward and not the effort? Instead of focusing on your position on the board, focus on asking yourself this question, “If I were to never have this opportunity to train or compete again, so I know in my heart and my mind that I left everything on the floor and gave that opportunity every ounce of my effort and talent?”. If you answer no, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate the inner critic that outshines your workout to show you the possibility of what you can do instead of what you cannot.

Step 2: Set Appropriate Goals and Release Expectations

It's important to set the bar high, but not so high that we create our own heartbreaks through expectations. The key to athletic and personal success is establishing both big and small goals while celebrating the tiny victories along the way. By no means does release expectations mean letting go of the vision or the goal, but what it does mean is not being so hard on yourself that you never get close to achieving what you set out to. Nobody walks in the gym on their first day and RXs everything to a tee. Sorry, it just doesn't happen. It’s something you have to earn, through means of discipline and an ability to set clear goals, then the persistence to work towards them with every single passing day. 

Instead of focusing on expectations, maybe you should focus on your ability to prioritize your passions and to view success as a single factor, rather than the factor that fails you from the beginning. After all, what you will reap the benefit of along your journey and goal slaying way will never be as important or as profound as what you will become along the way. You are your only limit and whatever happens between the weights on your barbell is synonymous with happens between your ears. You will encounter defeat, but you must not become defeated.

Step 3: Envision the Possibilities, Then Make Your Thoughts a Reality

Now that we’ve touched on goals, it’s important to understand the first step in goal-setting: being specific. As an athlete, you’re constantly faced with adversity and the need to overcome. Whether it’s pushing past a new max rep, heading into a new weight class, performing a Metcon during the competition, or simply showing up to the box on time for class, it’s imperative to see the possibility in the work ahead of you.

If you look too far ahead or too far behind, you lose a sense of the moment, so it’s actually quite the balancing act. Just as any muscle though, your brain too works the same – the more you exercise it the better it gets.

Once you begin to see opportunities and moments as a possibility, you’ll start to wonder why you didn’t see it sooner. So stop skipping the OLY class or stay and do the extra cash out work. Whatever current situation you're in is giving you an opportunity to re-evaluate what you want. That doesn’t mean you’ve changed the goal, but simply, the plan to get there. See the possibility, not the problem.

4 Powerful Ways Athletes Overcome Self-Doubt - Swolverine

Step 4: Commit to Fit (and Yourself, Too!)

Be all in or get out. There is no halfway and there shouldn’t be for you, mentally or physically. Knowing that you’re committed to taking an action in an effort to improve your outcome despite fear and doubt is one of the most empowering actions we can make as athletes. Instead of focusing on fear, fall in love with potential and making fitness a priority for your health. Stop accepting excuses for your inability to reach or meet your goals and start making it happen. Become committed to becoming a better athlete today than you were yesterday with better thoughts, decisions, and actions. Above all, challenge yourself to rise to the occasion and to overcome. Create your future from your future, not your past. Stay loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you. Oh, and don’t rush progress. A step forward, no matter how small, will always be a step in the right direction.

Overcoming Self-Doubt As An Athlete

Everyone has self-doubt but it's a matter of how you reframe your thoughts and your doubts. By reframing your doubt you can actually change the way you think and perform. Instead of thinking I am small and can't lift as much as my opponent, think about how you can make up time and gain an advantage on the run portion of the WOD. This way, you don't focus on what you can't do, but focus on what you can do, maximizing your strengths, boosting your confidence, and doing away with self-doubt.

These steps are the ways that successful athletes overcome self-doubt. This is how they put fear and anxiety to the side, how the focus on the prize, and how they eventually get there. If you’ve been second-guessing yourself, now is the time for you to get over yourself. What will always hold you back is not what you are, it’s what you think you aren’t. Become the designer of your athletic endeavors and watch the story unfold right before you.

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4 Powerful Ways Athletes Overcome Self-Doubt - Swolverine

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