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  • Writer's pictureTom Foxley

The forbidden five: 5 mindset faults that destroy crossfitters

Whether you are proud of the athlete you become or not, depends entirely on your mindset. Not your physical capacity.

Think about your mindset as the thing which determines the gap between the level you perform at and your potential.

Someone else wrote this better than me:

Performance = potential - interference.

In my time coaching crossfit athletes mindset, I’ve located five extremely common problems which hold athletes back from their potential: the forbidden five.

Today, I’m going to help you figure out which one of these five is holding you back the most.

If you don’t know the belief holding you back, you will always be limited by it, but you probably won’t be able to see it.

“Until the unconscious becomes conscious, it will rule your life and you’ll call it fate.” C.G. Jung

Today we’re going to cover:

  • Why you can’t meet the standards you set for yourself

  • Why you don’t believe in yourself

  • Why you feel like the outsider

  • Why you can’t change your mindset

  • Why you feel it’s fine for someone else, but not for you

I have to do this perfectly

I’m working with this athlete at the moment, who has had huge breakthroughs in the last month.

She’s realised just how much of her early conditioning was praising only perfection, and punishing anything less than perfection.

Because of this, she feels like the only way to be good enough is to be perfect.

The thing is, perfection is impossible.

Perfection is a moving goal post. It will retreat further, the closer you get to it.

When this athlete seeks perfection, and doesn’t hit it, it stings. It reminds her of those moments when she was less than perfect in her early life.

She reprimands herself in the same way she experienced as a child.

This all affects her performance negatively: either she does too much, or beats herself up for not doing enough.

Perfectionism is the first of the forbidden five, and it’s a cruel one.

I don’t deserve to be here

This athlete had his aha moment in a qualifier. He was doing great - way above his expectations - when he imagined how the “big guns” would be doing in the same workout.

He instantly felt deflated. He saw all the ways he wasn’t good enough.

What he was doing was telling himself he was an imposter. He didn’t deserve to be amongst those athletes.

He forecast getting caught out on the big stage.

And he pulled back away from intensity: feeling himself dissociate as a way if not committing to his best effort.

Imposter Syndrome is where we don’t believe we deserve to be at the level we’re at.

If we don’t overcome it, it will prove itself to be true, and you’ll always fall short.

I’m stuck being me

Carol Dweck changed the discussion on sports mentality with her work on growth mindsets.

A growth mindset is believing you can change not only your skill set (for example how you perform in strength workouts & gymnastic skills), but who you are as an individual (your character).

Those who believe they cannot change have what’s called a fixed mindset. Those who believe they can change their mentality have what Dweck termed a growth mindset.

Both the growth mindset crew and the fixed mindset crew are right.

What you believe about your capacity to change determines whether you can change or not.

Think about that for a moment.

“Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.” - Henry Ford

I’m different

I’ve been working with one of my athletes for a couple of months now.

A couple of weeks back she said to me “I actually believe I can change now. I actually believe I’m no different.”

This athlete had huge hesitation in signing up with me because she believed she was different to everyone else.

She’d tried listening to podcasts. She’d listened to a bunch of books. She’d tried journaling, meditation, and breathwork.

Yet nothing worked for her.

(Until she began working with me ;) )

Because of this, she began to believe that whilst other people could change their mindset, she couldn’t…because she was different…because she was in some way permanently broken…because something so deep had happened that she couldn’t change its effects.

That created all of her behaviours and thoughts.

Until she saw these significant shifts in her Quarterfinals performance and training, when she actually saw that she could change.

As much as it provides athletes with emotional safety, believing you’re different to everyone else is a way to keep yourself stuck.

Not good enough

What all of these boil down to is some form of “I’m not good enough”.

This belief becomes a self fulfilling prophecy; a forecast of who we become.

It shows up in a variety of ways, but when I investigate athlete’s mindsets with them, we usually uncover a variation of this at the heart of their problems.

Not so forbidden after all…

I’ve called these forbidden, because we want to eliminate their destructive impact on our performances.

Yet if we really forbid them, we bring a level of rejection to our experience.

Instead, try embracing them. Getting to know that way of thinking like you’d get to know someone on a first date.

Be curious about how they shape experience and allow them to show themselves. This is how you really overcome them.


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