Someone pissed me off today.
I can’t even remember the last time I was this mad, upset or irritated. Maybe I’ll call it frustration, but I’m pretty sure anger neighbors it.
I’m at the squat rack, about to do my 4th and final set of paused squats. As I narrow my focus on the barbell, I grasp my belt and tighten it. As I begin to approach the bar, a member walks right in front of me.
I won’t say I lost it, but I did feel my emotions begin to rise. “what a jerk.” were my thoughts.
I did consider walking up to the guy and giving him a piece of my mind, but decided against it. I brushed it off and did my set. The rise in emotion actually made my last set easier. Probably the easiest 330lbs x 4 reps of paused squats in my entire life.
After I was done with my set, I was standing about 4 feet away from the bar. That same guy went ahead and did the same exact thing and walked right between me and the barbell. So I reacted:
“Hey man.” He pauses, turns around and takes one headphone out from one ear. “That was rude.”
He nods, mumbles something I can’t hear, puts his headphone back on, turns around and walks away.
I’m thinking WTF!
I was angry, but I was still fairly composed. I watched him walk to the water fountain then do some dips on the dip bench and then I made my approach (after he was with his set of course!)
“Dude. I was about to do my set and you just walked right in front of me. Okay yeah, no big deal, but then, you walk right in front of me again. Twice with no consideration.” My tone was stern, but I wasn’t yelling. I take a deep breath and walked away.
He manages to almost whisper, “I’m sorry.”
You would think that once you get something off your chest, that it would make you feel better, and I guess it did, but I was pretty amped up at that point. I was just about done with my workout, but had a need to do something with this built up aggression. F’ it – Heavy block pulls it is.
I’m going to take this negative energy and unleash it on more heavy lifting.
Then about 5 minutes later, the same guy walks out of the locker room and sincerely apologize. He asked a question that totally disarmed me.
“Do you have a youtube channel?”
If there’s one thing you could’ve asked me at that moment to diffuse my built up frustration, it was that. We talked for a few minutes about his youtube channel and he shared some of his aspirations. He knew a fairly well known youtuber in the local area, Chris Lavado or aka Yucky Lavado. It was a pretty short exchange, but awkward for me.
I had 500lbs set up on the blocks, ready to annihilate some weights and I get the equivalent of a buzz kill or turn off. If anger were viagra for heavy lifting, his apology was the equivalent of some ridiculously strong and rampant erectile dysfunction that counteracted its effects.
The value of self awareness is priceless. It’s in these type of moments I learn the most about myself. When your temperament is tested, you can either continue to repeat the same mistakes in the future or glean some value from them.
Something you learn doesn’t have to be new.
I was reminded how less tolerant I am when people around me don’t have manners when I’m working out. Although I was fairly level headed, my emotions took control over a seemingly trivial matter. I can’t say I regret my reaction, but it’s fascinating to me how life has a way of translating into spectrum of emotions based on how we interpret events in our life. Instead of being numb and oblivious to life events, I chose to absorb the seemingly mundane things and appreciate the positivity and negativity of them.
That doesn’t sound like a bad philosophy.
When I get angry or frustrated, I’m the type person that goes searching for how to solve the problem. It feels like a puzzle that needs to be solved immediately. My method of solving it is almost always a discussion, teaching or learning opportunity. Physical force due to anger is rarely a good idea. The only situation I see where force is appropriate is in self defense. Outside of that reason, you’re either going to hurt someone, hurt yourself or both.
Anger or rage before a heavy lift like a clean or deadlift, might help you. Frustration afterwards because of a missed lift or technique failure is merited, but when I see someone kick the barbell after a missed clean, I can’t help but shake my head in disbelief. Yes, I’ve seen this before.
You could damage the equipment.
You could hurt someone.
You could hurt yourself .
Too many opportunities of risk. Asymmetrical risk to reward.
Punching or kicking a wall. Throwing an object like a plate or a phone in rage is madness to me.
I get that this happens sometimes. I can relate to making bad decisions. I’ve made my fair share.
Everyone has been a child at one point, and as a 7 year, it might be difficult to “keep it together.” Emotions like anger are so easy to manage when you’re not upset. It’s so easy to see someone do something due to anger and just call that person stupid. However, as any experienced human being would know, when you’re in the thick of it, it’s easier said than done.
When I have conversations with my friends they would sometimes propose a situation and ask, “what would you do?” My reply is always the same or similar.
You really don’t know what you’ll do until you’re actually in that situation.
Sure, I can say what I should do and do the smartest thing – but we are humans beings that are emotional creatures. It’s easy to say what you should do. But quite often, what you should do…you don’t. It’s not because we are bad people, it’s simply because we are human. Depending on the circumstance, we will do something out of our usual character for all kinds of emotional logical an illogical reasons.
What would you do if you found out you had only one year to live?
What would you do if you could never deadlift again?
What would you do if your significant other left you?
It’s easy to play the ‘what if’ game, but you won’t really know until it happens to you.
I guess this is what it means to have an unshakable character. Much similar to the Peter Principle in business management. Here’s a quote I heard that’s quite profound:
“No one ever rises to the occasion, an athlete falls down to the level of their training.”
I think it was the strength coach Dan John that said it on a podcast that I can’t quite recall.
When it comes to acting out of anger, one could say that one falls to the level of their character.