Written by Liz Van Winkle
When it comes to reaching my goals, I’m the type of person who…
When it comes to solving problems at work, I’m the type of person who…
In the face of a difficult situation, I’m the type of person who…
When I’m frustrated, I’m the type of person who…
What do the ends of those sentences look like for you? Self-identity is the driving force behind your motivations, daily habits, and, ultimately, how you view yourself as an individual. It is the answer to the question “Who am I?”
Different parts of our lives are all incorporated into our self-identity as a whole. For example, I am not solely a mom or a wife or a coach or an athlete; I am the sum of all of those parts. Additionally, the parts are not independent of one another. The patience I learn as a mom helps me to be a better coach (especially in dealing with the antics of our BBC-ers). The communication skills that I learn as a coach can help me as a wife and friend.
This identity evolves throughout our lives and it is shaped by our experiences. Sometimes, significant life events change who we are. However, it is how we respond to the smaller-scale experiences in our everyday lives make all the difference in shaping our self-identity.
This concept is one of the things I love most about CrossFit. It can both expose and develop so much in a person.
The mental toughness and willpower it takes to get through a tough workout, when every muscle fiber is telling you to quit BUT somehow you keep going until the end — that sheer determination is a skill that can be honed and practiced. So, that when you’re faced with a difficult situation outside the gym, those muscles are primed and strong. You have learned how to push through walls and find parts of yourself, both mental and physical, that you never knew were there.
Or how about those days when you’re not feeling your best? Maybe it’s cold and raining, you were late to work because your car wouldn’t start, your kid was up all night coughing, you didn’t get that promotion you desperately wanted, BUT you show up to the gym anyway. You just kept going, didn’t make excuses. The fortitude that is forged in those moments strengthens your moral fibers. Your backbone gets stronger.
Think about the first time that you tried something new in the gym. Everyone has that movement that really fires them up out of frustration. Maybe for you it’s double-unders or rope climbs or muscle-ups. Or maybe, if you’re like me, its all of those things plus like twelve more. The first time, and probably the next fifty-plus after that, you can’t do it. You feel mad, disheartened, angry BUT you keep trying. You ask a coach for some extra help (learning and practicing resourcefulness & humility). You practice on your own (persistence). You stand up after falling down (perseverance). Then, on that glorious day – you finally get it. You set a goal and you achieve it. Your hard work pays off!
How can all of these battles, both internal and external, not make you a better person?
Reaching those external goals – losing weight, gaining some abs, PRing your front squat, performing your first muscle-up – are great. But it is really the internal gains – what you learn about yourself and the character you develop – that make the difference.
This little lady (that’s not so little anymore 😥) started @friendshipcrossfit when she was 10 years old. She has been working her butt off for 3 years to get a bar muscle up and look where some hard work can get you 👏🏼😊🙌🏼 Proud of you @julia_kassis — so lucky to coach such a hard working athlete! #teachthemyoung #crossfitteens #barmuscleup #gymnasty
Here is Julia Kassis who has been practicing pull-ups and bar muscle-up progressions for MONTHS to earn this! What a great learning lesson for a strong, confident young woman.
During all of these decisions and experiences, we are constantly talking to ourselves. It is only natural for doubts, insecurities, and fears to rear their ugly heads when the going gets tough. Next time you are in a grueling workout, pay attention to the voice in your head. Is it putting you down or building you up? Does it say “there’s no way you can finish this” or “just keep going, you got it”? Is it a voice that you would use to others? Would you say the same things to your friends, significant other, and/or your kids? Is it a voice that you would want projected over the gym speakers for all to hear? After a workout, when a coach or a friend congratulates you for finishing, do you give a half-hearted “Thanks, but I had to scale the pull-ups (or some other way to put down yourself and your performance)”?
If your answers to those last few questions don’t reflect positive self-identity, consider a different approach. Next time you are in a workout, pay attention to your internal voice. Once it takes a turn to ‘Negative Town’, think about the pointers a coach has shared with you, the support your training partner has given you, the pride your kids see in you. Push that negative self-talk to the side, focus on your breathing, and give yourself a little love and encouragement. The more that you can talk positively to yourself, the more your self-identity will improve. The more your self-identity improves, the better you can improve others’ views of themselves. And if we are a community of people who love themselves and love each other, we will definitely be a positive influence on the world outside our walls.
Everyday, you have the opportunity to become a little better than you were the day before. Spread the positivity, work hard, and be kind to yourself. Be proud of your answer to the question “I’m the type of person who…”
Friendship CrossFit in Dublin has seen many Columbus CrossFit athletes carry over success in the gym to promotions at work, finding a spouse, being a better father / mother and generally finding happiness. The skills and personal development that takes place inside our walls bleeds over to help people find success in every area of their life. Here coach Liz Van Winkle writes on the how & why of that phenomenon.
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