In training, you listen to your body. In competition, you tell your body to shut up.

In training, you listen to your body. In competition, you tell your body to shut up.

By Mario Ashley

Over the last five years, I’ve focused on becoming more self-aware of my emotions. During times of distress, I ask myself these three questions:

  • “What emotion am I feeling.”
  • “Why am I feeling this emotion?”
  • “Is this emotion productive?”

In doing so, I’ve been able to become more stable with my emotions and actions in training and life.

If emotions are a guidepost to our thoughts and our thoughts guide our actions. It would make sense to understand feelings on a deep level. It’s called being Emotionally Intelligent. Worth a read.

Sometimes you just have to “tell your body to shut up.” For example, the pain of physical discomfort caused by intense physical exertion can cause many people to give up or slow down as the discomfort grows. I believe the reason for that is these athletes let the EMOTION of physical discomfort become greater than their WILL to keep going.

As I began to see more and more of that in my gym, I have recommended one of two things to my athletes.

Talk To Yourself

You can never let yourself be surprised when exercise begins to hurt and become uncomfortable. That’s the whole point. In those instances, you must positively affirm your worth using mantras as the uneasiness grows. “I can do this!” “I’m tough” “I’m not going to quit.” “Don’t stop now.” “I’m almost done.”

This is a character trait of some of the best athletes in the world. When someone says “so-and-so has great composure” what they are saying is that the athlete can maintain a level of positively in seemingly difficult situations. That consistency comes from their continuous positive self-talk during competition.

For some, positive self-talk is drowned out by the aggressive ridicule that goes on in one’s mind. In this case, learn to shut it off completely.

Become Mindless

By definition “mindless” involves the act of doing without justification or concern for the consequence. The cost of competition causes immense discomfort. So instead, we stay at the lighter loads, drop the bar sooner than we need to or make modifications to exercises without ever challenging ourselves. All to reduce the discomfort that may occur.

Rather than giving yourself the ability to overthink the situation, BECOME MINDLESS. Do it anyways. Defy what you think you can or can’t do. Run the extra lap. Add the additional 10lbs to your bench. Attempt your first pull-up. You don’t know what you don’t know.

Defying logic gives you the ability to create more discomfort. That extra discomfort produces greater results. It’s doing without thinking. Don’t think, just do.


This isn’t just a skill in overcoming intense physical exercise. This is a life skill. How do you act when something doesn’t go your way? What do you do when you start having a bad day?

We can choose to rise above it by thinking positive. We can ignore it and continue with our day. Or we can let it beat us and affect our happiness. Understanding this one concept has developed more maturity in my life than any other thing I’ve done.

-Mario Ashley

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