Mind Your Mental Momentum

Michael McCastle

Coach

Endurance Sports, Sports Psychology, Personal Training, Strength and Conditioning

Fitness, motivation, sports psychology, momentum, mindset, twelve labors project

 

Momentum is a physical law of nature. Issac Newton tells us that an object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object that is moving tends to keep on moving. Inertia and momentum are concepts that can easily be applied to human beings, as well. We tend to think of momentum when we are moving through space in a car or at the gym, but it is also a mental phenomenon. 

 

 

The concept of momentum can be applied to our dreams, goals, and aspirations, and it can affect us even when we are lying in bed at night. We do not necessarily need to move our bodies in order to keep momentum going, although that is a requirement for physical challenges. But we do need to keep our minds moving in order to keep our dreams alive and on track.

 

Momentum of the Mind

It is useful to conceptualize momentum as the speed at which a person propels themselves toward their goals. Those who achieve much during their lifetimes are also the people who constantly move toward making their dreams a reality. While the first part of a goal may be to visualize attaining that goal, it is far from the only action that must be taken. Those who have big dreams, but stop the process at the visualization stage, are an object at rest.

 

Psychological momentum borrows much from the concept of physical momentum, but with a few metaphysical properties mixed in. Researchers have defined it as:

 

“… a perceptual phenomenon that changes human behavior and performance. It is ‘experienced as a psychological force in which several factors or qualities converge in a synergistic way to enable one to perform at a level not ordinarily possible”

 

Once someone has enabled their own psychological momentum, they become more likely to string together successes and achieve multiple goals in a short duration of time.

 

Momentum Killers

Psychological momentum is every bit as important as physical momentum, and the two become intertwined when striving toward physical goals. However, there are several impediments that can interfere with your psychological momentum.

 

The most common and most powerful impediment to momentum is fear. While dreaming of significant success is necessary for achievement, those goals often require a large amount of time, commitment, and energy. These requirements tend to intensify the chances of failing at the goal in question. This risk of failure is often perceived as scary, as nobody wants to perceive themselves as a failure, or worse, have others perceive them as a failure. This fear stifles psychological momentum, which then stifles physical momentum, stopping a person from achieving their dreams.

 

Another impediment to psychological momentum is poverty of the mind. Questions like, “What if I am not good enough?” or “What if I try as hard as I can, but fail anyway?” indicate poverty of the mind, and it is a large part of why so many people fail to realize their achievements and accomplish goals. These obstacles are all mental, which means the only way to overcome them is to persevere, equip a positive attitude, and most importantly, never stop moving toward the ultimate goal, regardless of what it is or what it entails. 

 

Fear and poverty of the mind are akin to the time of slavery and oppression. Slaves were given a sense of fear and poverty which made them stationary. Because of this, they were obedient and conformed to everything the slave master demanded.

 

Consider the relationships in your life. Who is injecting the virus of fear and poverty into you? Maybe it’s your work, gym, or school environment. Perhaps it’s the people on your social media networks. Regardless of the source, if you feel enslaved, it is because you are afraid and have been made to feel poor. 

 

Reversing Inertia

While in Naval Special Warfare training, I suffered a career-altering injury to both of my knees. I immediately felt fear. I was afraid to take the necessary steps to regain my momentum, because I feared the probability of never achieving my vision of success. I fell into a dark place, gained a lot of weight, self-medicated with alcohol, and isolated myself from co-workers, friends and family. I viewed myself as a failure, and had very low self-worth. In short, I became an object at rest.

 

In order to climb out of the void I was in and free myself from the grips of all that stifled my momentum, I needed to change my environment and set aside limiting beliefs of myself. I surrounded myself with people who gave me courage and made me feel rich inside.

 

Believe that you are resilient. Find strength in past accomplishments, and see the value in failure. Past performance is not a predictor of future results.

 

The Tire Won’t Flip Itself

Through my Twelve Labors Project, I have pushed my body to the brink of exertion, and quite honestly, past it. I owe all my previous and future successes to the concept of momentum, both physically and psychologically.

 

Positive physical and psychological momentum is what allowed me to accomplish my second Labor, flipping a 250-lb tire for thirteen miles straight to raise awareness of veteran mental health issues. I performed this feat the morning after my father passed away, and I attribute my ability to do so to positive psychological momentum.

 

From a metaphorical perspective, the tire represented an impediment to both physical and psychological momentum. It also represented the heavy burden that some of our nation’s veterans carry from their service. If I stopped flipping the tire for even a moment, or if I put in only a fraction of the effort required, the tire would have fallen back on me, quite literally putting an end to my physical momentum, and putting a large dent in my psychological momentum.

 

But with enough physical and mental tenacity, that tire kept on flipping, and while the task was nothing like easy, it was much more manageable when I kept my mind and my body moving forward. If I had faltered, or allowed fear, hesitation, or the grief of losing my Dad stifle my momentum, that challenge would not have been completed.

 

Commitment and a concentrated effort are what allow psychological momentum to continue, and thus allow for the human body to continue moving forward.

 

Mind Your Mental Momentum

Momentum is something we all know about, but it doesn’t happen on its own. With enough psychological momentum, it is possible to accomplish anything, no matter how big or how small. Pay attention to your own internal momentum, because once it is stopped in its tracks, much like physical momentum, you’ll remain remain right where you are, instead of getting closer to your goals.

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