Pushing Beyond Limitations of The Ego
Ok…So, according to my aches and pains, it seems I am still alive and still going to CrossFit. The last I checked, I am still showing up.
Though showing up is half the battle, I still wish I were better at it. The truth is, I am not really “good” at any of the exercises, let alone “best.” And even though I know I have to treat this exercise regimen as a process much like I do yoga—where I focus on the process of getting to a pose, not the pose itself, I still find myself attached to the outcome of how I perform or underperform. It appears I continue to hold onto my fantasy of becoming some kind of Olympic level athlete, or at least to look like one.
Why is it so hard to remember that 100% of the effort reaps 100% of the benefit? Why is it so hard to “be in the process” without focusing on some absolute outcome?
It is really difficult I tell you. Much of the Crossfit workouts is based on seeing how many repetitions one can do in the least amount of time or how heavy the weight one can lift, push, press or pull. Whoever manages to get the high scores, makes it on the board for everyone to see.
It really is a great concept—encouraging people to push themselves beyond their believed limits. The problem can be, however, that when you worry about the time or the weight, you can forget about your form and being in the process of doing the movement or technique well. If you are not paying attention and you do push the limits of your body, you can get hurt.
Of course, I suffer from this problem. When Tim, the owner/instructor says “3, 2, 1, GO!”, all my meditation knowledge and focus go out the window as I race with time.
With yoga, I can easily pay attention to the process of getting to my pose. In Crossfit, I somehow seem to lose sight of the process—maybe it’s because of my Olympic body fantasy. And mind you, I have no fantasy of being a yogini swami who can wrap herself like a pretzel. In other words, I have no ego involved when I do yoga. I’m neither good nor bad at doing yoga and if I practice it, I am doing it for the health of my body, not as a sport.
One day this week, for instance, my workout started with a high as I managed to do my first pull-up. But then, when the clock started, I quickly lost my high as I proceeded with the rest of the timed workout. I also lost my form in my attempt to get a faster time. Not on purpose, of course, but I did notice and was thankful at the end that I did not get injured.
You might be thinking at this point, “Why are you doing this exercise program if there is a chance you might get hurt?” And I will tell you that this is a very good question indeed.
Thing is, you can get hurt doing anything if you are not paying attention or being mindful. How many times have you slipped or tripped walking up the stairs? How many times are you so focused on where you are going when driving, that you are not paying attention to the potholes or other cars? How many times are you so set on getting what you want that you get in an argument with your partner or colleague, ending up hurting them or getting hurt instead?
The need to be mindful and pay attention transcends every aspect of your life. When you are present, focused, engaged, enthusiastic, and lacking self-consciousness, you actually are in the state of “flow” or for athletes, in the “zone.” In order to get to this state, it necessary to move beyond your ego, because it’s your ego that needs to ‘win’ or feel validated for some specific outcome.
For me, Crossfit is not only helping me to achieve better physical fitness, but it is teaching me to move beyond the limits of my ego. I would love some day to be as fit as everyone else in the group, but I also have to be okay with the fact that that may never happen. I do have a bad back and I am limited physically, right now. What may happen in the future, we shall see. But for now, my goal is to stay enthusiastic, have fun, stay focused and present, and throw my self-consciousness out with the trash and be healthy—mind, body and spirit.
So how about you lose your self-consciousness and join me on this journey? Write comments and share your stories!
In response to your question, “Why is it so hard to “be in the process” without focusing on some absolute outcome?” Instant gratification! We are living in a society where many things that we need or want are readily available with little mental, emotional, and/or physical effort required to attain them. I’m not saying that we do not face struggles throughout our lives, but that is has become more common place for us to take the easy way out whether it be in our professional or personal lives.
As you continue your journey to wellness, remember that each individual athlete is working their way up a mountain that they will never reach the top of. They work toward short term goals and thrive off of the camaraderie of the CrossFit community and small frequent successes. Journaling your workouts will help you to see your success over time. Work hard, but safe, and most of all… HAVE FUN!!!