How to Break Through Mental Blocks and Achieve Victory in Your Life

When was the last time you did something surprising… remarkable… out of your normal routine?

I wondered this the other weekend as I watched my daughter compete at a provincial championship trampoline and tumbling competition.

I knew she had struggled leading up to this event.

She had a mental block on one of the routines she’d been training and nailing for months after a fall in a previous competition.

She moved up a level mid season to compete at a higher level rather than riding out the rest of the season and collecting hardware (gold medals and podium finishes).

She struggled. She risked not making finals at important events.

She challenged her mind trying to work through a mental block in a sport that has healthy amounts of fear because of its nature (spinning in the air, flying and then landing in the centre of an un-netted trampoline).

I saw her surprise herself in a brand new event, becoming the silver medalist for tumbling. An event she’s only been training and competing in this year.

I watched her fight through nerves in the other event competing against 18 others that had been doing these passes all year already.

I watched her… I felt her… have panic and anxiety on the gym floor before warming up for her last event in the event where she had been blocked and unable to complete all week.

She was uncomfortable on so many levels.

She had to push herself on multiple levels, on multiple days.

And she’s just 14.

She competed her personal best in the event she jumped up a level in – but but did not make it to finals – for the first time ever.

She sacrificed the glory of a gold medal for not even top 10.

She shocked herself with her new event and proudly presented on podium with a silver medal win.

And for the biggest challenge – the one of her own mind… she fought and pushed and shook before, during and for 20 minutes after.

Her nervous system prepared for fight and flight the whole time.

She got up on that trampoline and completed that routine. Held victory over those mental blocks and the negativity and doubt in her own mind.

And she missed making finals by 0.2. By a hair.

But the look on her face when she did what she thought she could not do for all of the above – and especially the last one…was pure glory.

Achievement in spite of pain.

She could have taken the easy way out. She could have given up. And she never would have learned what it’s like to master your mind, tolerate discomfort, and push yourself to overcome.

When was the last time you did the same?

At your age?

These moments are not reserved for the young.

They are for everyone. All ages.

The brain loves them. It grows from them.

Literally grows new neurons and neural connections from doing something you’ve never done before and becoming expert at it… through all the challenges.

Novelty, learning, having something to look forward to (goals), and celebrating is good for your brain.

Not just that, it’s good for your self esteem, your sense of self worth and confidence.

It has a ripple effect on other areas of your life too.

When you succeed in one area. Especially when it’s not easy, you also set up neural pathways in the brain to continue to do that in other parts of your life.

1. Revisit your bucket lists.

What have you always wanted to do that you have never done? Because you thought it was too late, you were too old, or you were too afraid?

Do you realize the glory you are missing by not going after things you want, by not chasing victory because you have a list of excuses you run through every time you think of them.

Start making a list of things you’d like to accomplish.

Not small ones. Big ones. Insurmountable ones.

Stop censoring your mind and it’s creativity in this area.

Make a list and start tackling big, uncomfortable, scary goals.

Imagine, in detail, what it will feel look to accomplish them. To get the win.

Daydream about it daily while you start making an action plan to move towards it.

If my teenage daughter can fly through the air, untethered, in a shiny bodysuit at the best of times, let alone through all of these challenges, then what’s your excuse as a grown human where what you’re afraid of doesn’t involve having the spotlight on you in tight spandex while your flesh bounces?

2. Ditch the security blanket of your routine.

Your routine and structure and same old same old is bad for you.

In a myriad of ways.

It makes you feel safe. But it isn’t healthy.

You are not growing. You have ceased to evolve. You have probably become bored and if not, you might have become boring.

I think you’ve been selling yourself short and playing it safe.

Your brain isn’t growing because of it.

Every time you do the same thing, perform the same habit, your brain is just using old neural pathways. Ones that are already established in your brain.

This is efficient – it takes less mental energy.

But it is not growth.

It is autopilot.

Autopilot is efficient but dull.

You will never break mental blocks with your complacent routines.

You challenge mental blocks with novelty – new things that break out of the rut.

This is the only way to get your mind unstuck and stop allowing it to be fixated on the thing it currently cannot do.

You redirect it to do something new.

Take new roads home from work, switch up your daily routines, add a new workout program, start a new online brain training program.

Switch things up – shake things up – the rest of your brain will benefit from it and it takes away the activation that’s building in your nervous system around the area you’re blocked.

3. Do things you can’t do.

And be ok with sucking at them.

The brain LOVES this. To start as a beginner doing something new and learning.

Ongoing learning and challenge is essential for a healthy brain but it’s also important for the mind.

Refuse defeatist thinking.

Picture doing what you cannot do, and doing it perfectly.

Notice what happens in your body as you imagine this.

For athletes this is essential pre-competition prep…their routine, perfectly executed.

This practice in all areas connects the body to the mind. The muscles start to mobilize and organize based on the vision in the mind.

This is powerful.

You need to start using it everywhere.

As you realign your mindset this way, start challenging your actions. Stop being afraid.

My daughter didn’t really have a choice. She was on the floor and maybe could have run off, but really, the only choice is to sink or swim. To get up there and just do it – against all of the fear trembling in her body.

Feel the fear and do it anyway. For everything.

This is raw courage and will that you have to find in yourself and be ok with it feeling uncomfortable and unnatural.

It’s just fight or flight – which is the same process if you’re in a life or death situation or if you’re just going into a high stress situation.

Know the difference – separate yourself from the experience.

This is just my brain going into fight or flight because I’m nervous and afraid, this is natural and normal, and will dissipate.

And it does.

And if you run away from activation like this every time it comes up, you will always be held hostage by your mental blocks.

You’ll create more mental blocks.

You will never experience victory and the achievements that you want in life ever again because you will be so used to playing it safe.

Set big ridiculous goals for your life and what you want to achieve. Get rid of your routines that keep you safe but living small. Start forcing yourself into the discomfort of the unknown and potential failure so you can build some resilience. You can build new habits around challenge and becoming an overcomer.

Start making your life exciting, do extraordinary things.

Do things that you think you can’t do and watch yourself find ways to do them.

You don’t have to fly through the air in a bodysuit doing dangerous stunts – but you do have to identify the things that you want that you cannot do and start organizing your brain so that you do them anyway.

This is the only way you will ever feel the glory of victory.

Be okay with failing initially. Get over yourself. Keep your eye on the prize you want and allow that to motivate you to keep going.

Victory was never meant to come easy.

Grab some grit and get moving.