Personal Psychology

The Power of Personal Psychology
By Stephanie Vincent

At the CrossFit Goal Setting Seminar, Greg Amundson talks a lot about the power of our thoughts and words.  How we think and what we say dramatically influences our experiences both in the gym and in our lives.  As much as we know this there are still times when we can’t seem to shift the very thoughts and words that we know will make or break us.  We are conscious of the negative thoughts we are thinking, but despite our best efforts to replace positive with negative, we feel stuck.  It is at these moments that we can pull out another tool in our arsenal, one Greg illustrates throughout the seminar, consciously changing our personal geography.

 The definition of geography is, the arrangement of features of any complex entity.  Our personal geography is made up how we arrange our physical body itself.  Are we sitting or standing?  What is our facial expression?  What is our physical posture?  What are we doing with our hands?  Our we moving or still? It is also how we arrange our body in space.  Where are we in a room?  What are we touching or not touching?  How are we interacting with who and what is around us?

Our personal geography is mostly unconscious.  It is a direct representation outside of what is going on inside.  It happens without any thought on our part.  However what we often don’t realize is that by simply deliberately changing it, we can directly impact the inside drastically, with immediate results.

 Try this exersize:

Sit down, slump your shoulders, hold your head down, frown, breath shallow breaths. Stay in that position for a few moments. Notice how you feel.  What kind of thoughts arise?   Now think about some goal or dream you have, notice how that is for you.

Now stand up, pull your shoulders back, hold your head high, smile and breathe deep. Stay in this position for a few moments. Notice how you feel, what kind of thoughts arise? Now think about that same goal or dream from before, notice how it feels different here.

We have all heard the expression, “fake it, till you make it.”  This is in essence what we do when we make a choice to change our geography despite what is going on inside.  We are artificially changing our physicality to reflect the inner state we want rather than the one we currently have.  This is a tool to pull out anytime we feel stuck.  When we notice we are feeling that way, we can immediately take notice of our geography and then change it.  The more we do this, the more practice we get, the more it is an automatic way in which we realign with what will make us successful.  Mid WOD is a perfect place to practice.

Think about what your personal geography is like when the WOD gets tough.   Do you shake your head no? Do you walk away from the equipment?  Do you go down on one knee with your head down, do you collapse after each set, do you throw your equipment?  Do you touch or look at the part of your body that hurts?   A great example would be someone looking at their hands each time they drop from the pull up bar.  Just imagine, how looking at bar instead of their hands might effect both their performance and their experience in the workout.

The first step to harnessing the power of our personal geography is for us to begin to take notice.  Both when we are feeling good and when we are defeated we can pay attention to what those landscapes look like.  In our workouts we can take inventory when we are in the zone and when we are just slugging through.  We can even ask a coach to pay attention and report back.    Once we know what geography that will make us more efficient looks like we can begin to consciously choose it.

When we are mentally stuck, using the mind to try to change it may be futile.  Training the mind isn’t as simple as just mental practice; no more than training the body is as simple as just physical practice. Mind effects body, body effects mind, mind effects body.  Mind and body they are inseparable- where one goes the other follows, that is why attention to our personal geography is so important.

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