Book Review: How Bad Do You Want It? By Matt Fitzgerald part 2

As promised, picking up from where we left off with Siri Lindey’s over active internal criticism.

Siri’s childhood home was emotionally desolate and she wanted to achieve things in order to feel seen, to be valued.

I can relate.

Unfortunately this meant that when she put tons of pressure on herself at big events and it caused her to make mistakes or to just plain panic and when she didn’t achieve her goals it confirmed what she really believed about her own value.

Again, I can relate.

Positively, I can also relate to the fact that she eventually got fucking sick of it and decided to be fueled by that anger. I wrote about this before (There Is Room For Negative Self-Talk In Fitness) and now I feel validated.

It’s a shift from thinking I’m a loser, no one loves me unless I’m perfect, I’m letting people down, everyone knows I suck and the more they encourage me the more it means they see that I suck because only babies need such patronizing (like I said, I related intimately to this story)  to thinking I’m just not going to let myself down anymore. That’s it, single priority, and everything else is a by-product I can’t control. And of course she goes on to be a champion. But more importantly she stops caring about being a champion. She let’s go of the idea that she has to be better than good enough to be loved or that other people have to love her in order for her to love herself and she retires young and takes up coaching to help other young people see that.

This chapter was called The Art Of Letting Go and I have another book mark a page later about how fantasizing about desired outcome – winning the race, losing the weight, finally being loved, whatever – actually decreases the amount of effort people put in to the task at hand. You get the micro dopamine hit of imagining it and then don’t want to put in the suck to truly get there.

So much of my depression came from comparing my life to my fantasies, to real self to my perfect self, and that’s why I was helped so much by losing everything. Dream dead and I’m still here, sun still comes up, I started living in the real world. Or at least stopped obsessing about how things were supposed to be and how they weren’t.

Again my race mantra of I’m merely here comes in handy. Rehearse the race not the victory lap, rehearse the suck not the celebration.

Luckily in all my rambling I covered the ideas behind a bunch of bookmarks and we’ve only got two left. I’ll do the shorter one first because it ties in a bit to what we just talked about – the effect of past wins.

On the one hand past wins build confidence, we love doing what we’re good at even if the test has been rigged and we’re artificially good at it. People shown they’re doing well at a game keep doing it – and by continuing to do it they do actually improve – more so than people who were merely allowed to suck.

This doesn’t work however on people with big egos, like big wins in other areas. You get a beginners luck dopamine hit by being surprisingly good at a new task. You don’t get it if you take for granted you’re great at everything. If your ‘greatness’ is a confirmation you then don’t practice because, obviously, you don’t need to.

So thinking about past wins can give you a boost but past wins aren’t future wins. You have no future wins, you just have your level of effort right now.

And finally, The Group Effect.

I have a problem with training partners because I find it always becomes a Mutual Excusing Society, a mes.

We decent people want others, especially those we care about, to be happy and safe. Training, real training, doesn’t bring that out. We also don’t like to be seen suffering and straining so we don’t push ourselves as hard in public (even a public of one) either.

But interestingly in the book I learned that we actually work harder while projecting, while reporting, quite possibly while feeling, less discomfort when we work out with a group.

So there is something to be said for training with a partner, or in groups, or in public but – firm pause – there’s a caveat I want to add. I think we should train alone in order to feel more strain, to get into the pain cave by ourselves and have only ourselves to rely on. Because that’s how you’re going to feel when it really, really, counts, the only time it counts.

When you’re really running a race, when you’re really doing something that matters, that puts you at your best now or never, everything you hear sounds far away, everyone you can see feels far away. If you always train with your friends, and your headphones, on sunny days, when you’re well rested, then you haven’t really trained for anything. Every hindrance, anything that’s sub-optimal, will just be overwhelming annoying and disappointing. You won’t have built any Resilience.

I train alone. In a silent concrete room. So that I know that the core of my strength comes from me. Sunny days, music, company, anything more than just me is a beautiful bonus and I’ll use it, I’ll love it, but I won’t need it. I won’t depended on it. I won’t depend on anything but me.

And that’s how bad I want it.

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