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The ONE THING Holding You Back

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

What's the one thing holding you back from achieving success? Your negative self-talk.

We recently completed a tough workout at Align. It was 75 burpees for time with a time cap of 5 minutes. We had a couple intentions here. For one, we wanted everyone to push hard and start thinking about pacing (“repetitions/minute”, for example). But, our broader, less obvious goal was to start considering how we talk to ourselves.

We are hardwired to consider the “negative” that may happen in a given situation. For

example, many of you looked at the prescribed work, compared it to the time cap, and

immediately announced to your coach that it was not possible or “too tough.” As suggested by Ben Bergeron (Chasing Excellence, pg 65-68), positivity is a learned behavior, and can be linked to improved performance. When you remain in the negative, you may be slower and less precise in your movements and work. Other than the obvious burpee example presented earlier, can you think of times in your daily routine in which you focus on the negative?

“It’s so hot.” “It’s so cold.”

“This snow sucks.”

“That person tailgating me is such a jerk.”

“This meeting could’ve been an email.”

Etc, etc. The list goes on and on. However, these things are outside of your control, and ultimately, focusing on it does nothing to improve your situation or stress level.

So, what can we do about it? Awareness is the key. Start catching yourself when you have a negative reaction, either your self-talk or to others. Immediately comment about it, then rephrase into a positive statement or thought. Do this with kindness, as you are learning a new habit. Be mindful, and make sure to take note of when you do respond positively to tricky situations (reinforce that talk!). When you are at the gym, know that your coaches will also be making you aware. We want you to be successful in all aspects of your life, and your negative self-talk may be holding you back. And, next time this workout (or any challenging one) comes around, keep this in mind ☺.



Ana Grimh, BA, DPT, CSCS, FMS-1, CF-L2 Trainer

Doctor of Physical Therapy, University of Wisconsin - Madison


Align Wellness Services, LLC

Reference: Bergeron B. (2017). “Chasing Excellence.” Find it HERE.

Keywords: Madison, Wisconsin, CrossFit, personal training, weightlifting, strength training,

mindset, gym, powerlifting, conditioning, Dane County, Align, Fitness Evolved

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