A simple technique to help when you’re frustrated with your progress

Getting out of pain can take time. You might feel frustrated at times. When those times hit, it’s important to mentally rewind and take an inventory on your body and your abilities.

With that in mind, one mental technique I use for myself and with clients is one that I’m sure has a fancy name in sports psychology (but I don’t know what it is).  So let’s call it the “mental rewind technique that helps you keep making progress in everything you do.” Or maybe just “mental rewind” for short.

I saw a client the other day who I started working with almost exactly a year ago. She’s been exceptionally busy over the last year spearheading the turnaround of a large organization, but she’s managed to spend long days in high heels running from meeting to meeting, monitoring situations and putting out fires. She’s got a little bit of discomfort now and then, but she manages to keep at her very important work with minimal complaints from her body now. That may sound like nothing special, but it is/was a big deal to her when we took a moment to use the “mental rewind.”

One year ago, she was hobbling with the assistance of a cane, and wearing heels of ANY height spelled absolute physical doom.

Think she’s motivated to keep moving her body in the right direction now that she sees how far she’s come? Yup!

When I use the mental rewind for myself, I often think back to when I was 25 and found I could not wear hockey skates anymore.  No matter what kinds of insoles I used, no matter how tightly I tied my laces, no matter if I tried a different pair of skates, skates would kill my ankles and feel miserable for my arches. My feet and ankles hurt pretty much all day no matter what kinds of shoes I wore, so it was not all that surprising that my skates would be so painful.

What is surprising is that at 30, I now wear skates several hours every week on the ice without any pain in my feet or ankles (except for the friction callouses that all hockey players know!).

Am I motivated to keep pushing my body to higher and higher heights? You bet!

No matter what you’re doing, it can be helpful to pause, reflect on how far you’ve come, and celebrate the victories you’ve already won by doing whatever it is you’re doing. Use the “mental rewind” when you feel like you’re hitting a block, and use your victories as the wind in your sails! Ask yourself:

  • Am I better off now than I was [6 months ago, 1 year ago, 2 years ago, 5 years ago]? AND/OR
  • What can I do now that I couldn’t before?

If you’d like to share an inspiring “mental rewind,” post it below in the comments! It’s an open invitation to all those who are fighting against pain or pushing toward some other special goal: what can you do today that you couldn’t before?


About the Author

Matt Hsu is a trainer and orthopedic massage therapist. He fought a long battle with chronic pain all over his body and won. He blends the principles he learned in his journey, empirical observations with clients, and relevant research to help others get their lives back.

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