10 Lessons You Should Unlearn (in Life and in CrossFit)

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We learn a lot of lessons along the way in life — some good, some not so good. Martha Beck of Oprah Magazine has a great list of 10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn, and it turns out that almost all of them are directly applicable to CrossFit training as well. Take a read through and let us know if there are other life lessons you have experienced that should make the list:

1. Problems are bad.

1. Problems are bad.

Solving a knotty problem can help us be happy, but we don’t have to be happy to feel good.
You spent your school years solving arbitrary problems imposed by boring authority figures. You learned that problems — comment se dit? — suck. But people without real problems go mad and invent things like base jumping and wedding planning.

Real problems are wonderful, each carrying the seeds of its own solution. Job burnout? It’s steering you toward your perfect career. An awful relationship? It’s teaching you what love means. Confusing tax forms? They’re suggesting you hire an accountant, so you can focus on more interesting tasks, such as flossing. Finding the solution to each problem is what gives life its gusto.

Read Back to Basics: How to Turn a Step Back into a Step Up.

2. It’s important to stay happy.

Solving a knotty problem can help us be happy, but we don’t have to be happy to feel good. If that sounds crazy, try this: Focus on something that makes you miserable. Then think, “I must stay happy!” Stressful, isn’t it? Now say, “It’s okay to be as sad as I need to be.” This kind of permission to feel as we feel — not continuous happiness — is the foundation of well-being.

Read Maintaining Perspective on CrossFit

3. I’m irreparably damaged by my past.

3. I'm irreparably damaged by my past.
Painful events leave scars, true, but it turns out they’re largely erasable. Jill Bolte Taylor, the neuroanatomist who had a stroke that obliterated her memory, described the event as losing “37 years of emotional baggage.” Taylor rebuilt her own brain, minus the drama.

Now it appears we can all effect a similar shift, without having to endure a brain hemorrhage. The very thing you’re doing at this moment — questioning habitual thoughts — is enough to begin off-loading old patterns. For example, take an issue that’s been worrying you (“I’ve got to work harder!”) and think of three reasons that belief may be wrong. Your brain will begin to let it go. Taylor found this thought-loss euphoric. You will, too.

Read Mobilize Your Mind: Athlete Self-Talk.

4. Working hard leads to success.

Studies show that people who worry about mistakes shut down, but those who are relaxed about doing badly soon learn to do well.
Baby mammals, including humans, learn by playing, which is why “the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.” Boys who’d spent years strategizing for fun gained instinctive skills to handle real-world situations.

So play as you did in childhood, with all-out absorption. Watch for ways your childhood playing skills can solve a problem (see #1). Play, not work, is the key to success. While we’re on the subject…

Read Are You an Animal?

5. Success is the opposite of failure. 

Fact: From quitting smoking to skiing, we succeed to the degree we try, fail, and learn. Studies show that people who worry about mistakes shut down, but those who are relaxed about doing badly soon learn to do well. Success is built on failure.

6. It matters what people think of me.

6. It matters what people think of me.
“But if I fail,” you may protest, “people will think badly of me!” This dreaded fate causes despair, suicide, homicide. I realized this when I read blatant lies about myself on the Internet. When I bewailed this to a friend, she said, “Wow, you have some painful fantasies about other people’s fantasies about you.” Yup, my anguish came from my hypothesis that other people’s hypothetical hypotheses about me mattered. Ridiculous! Right now, imagine what you’d do if it absolutely didn’t matter what people thought of you. Got it? Good. Never go back.

Read The Importance of Losing and Success Through Failure.

7. We should think rationally about our decisions.

Instead of weighing pros and cons intellectually, notice your physical response to each option.
Your rational capacities are far newer and more error-prone than your deeper, “animal” brain. Often complex problems are best solved by thinking like an animal. Consider a choice you have to make — anything from which movie to see to which house to buy. Instead of weighing pros and cons intellectually, notice your physical response to each option. Pay attention to when your body tenses or relaxes. And speaking of bodies…

8. The pretty girls get all the good stuff. 

Oh, God. So not true. I unlearned this after years of coaching beautiful clients. Yes, these lovelies get preferential treatment in most life scenarios, but there’s a catch: While everyone’s looking at them, virtually no one sees them. Almost every gorgeous client had a husband who’d married her breasts and jawline without ever noticing her soul.

Read OMG You Have An Amazing Ass and Female Bodies and the Fitness Industry: The Way CrossFit is Changing the Landscape.

Read the rest of Martha Beck’s article on 10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn here.

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