Addressing the Elephant in the Room – Pt. 2: The Elephant’s Shadow

In Part 1 of this little series, I addressed a contentious bit of speculation regarding my own personal use of steroids and what benefits TRT doses of Testosterone may or may not have had on my progress over the last two years. At that time, I mentioned that the major thing I wanted to address regarding these speculative accusations is the mental and emotional damage they do to the accusers (i.e. those doing the accusing). This, I expect, isn’t readily apparent, so let me clarify.

You see, whenever someone says ‘He’s on steroids’, at best, they are issuing a partial statement. I came to this realization by catching myself saying this exact thing internally whenever I saw some really huge (like pro bodybuilder huge) dude. I realized that when I said that, I immediately felt less deflated about how I compared to this person. And that’s when I realized that ‘He’s on steroids’ was not a complete sentence. The full sentence is ‘I haven’t been able to do that, and the only reason he has is because he’s on steroids.’ And by realizing what the full sentence was, I was able to realize the damage this thinking was doing to me.

See, by thinking in such terms, you are releasing yourself from any emotional liability for your own lack of progress, which is effectively dooming you to further failure. Stephen Covey calls this a self fulfilling prophecy, and that is exactly what it is. With that thought, you have made a much more direct statement to yourself. You have said ‘I will never reach that level.’ And as long as you think that way, you won’t.

This is what I meant by the mental damage from the statement, but the emotional damage is even more subtle. See, what many people don’t realize is that the most successful people in society are typically the most internally tortured. This seems completely unintuitive, but in my experience, it is fundamentally true.

You see, to accomplish anything truly great, you must be willing to suffer. And the more astounding the accomplishment, the more you must be willing to suffer. The motivation to not only endure, but actually embrace the level of suffering needed to become world-class at anything is brought about by the incredible pressure of not measuring up to your own expectations.

See, the world-class specimen has an expectation of greatness. An expectation of domination. An expectation to be absolutely, positively, the best in the world. Not ‘the best they can be’, or some other equally trite, ‘realistic’ goal fostered on them by weak–willed people who underestimate them, but the best anyone can be. This creates an incredible, almost unbelievable strain on them. A source of crushing, explosive internal stress that is never-ending and unquenchable

If you think this is a tortured existence, well, it is. It’s why the world-class specimen readily, almost eagerly skips outings with friends and family to train or practice. Why they toil for years in basements or bedrooms or musty attics with no recognition and no support. Why they are often incredibly self-deprecating (usually misconstrued as humility) and shy about displaying or talking about their passion, despite lots of positive feedback. It’s because no matter how good others tell them they are, in their mind, they are not yet a success. And unfortunately, in their own minds, most never will be.

However, don’t cry a river of tears yet, because for all of this suffering, the world-class specimen gets one major achievement: They get to be world-class. And they universally get to be better than anyone (sometimes even they) thought possible. And you know what? This is all due to the internal emotional stress brought about by not limiting themselves with talk that makes them feel better about their own mediocrity.

The thing is, this core problem isn’t limited to PED accusations either. This is a very common defense for almost all of our insecurities. Some other self-limiting phrases you might have found yourself repeating, at one time or another, are:

  • He’s got great genetics…
  • He went to a better college…
  • His parents have money…
  • She slept her way to the top…
  • I be he deals drugs…

This goes on and on and on. And you know what, some of them might even be true. But that makes no difference. True or not, what applies to someone else has nothing to do with your success or lack thereof. The only thing truly limiting who you are and what you can do with your life is you.

And I, for one, have found that thought to be very liberating.


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