STORY: A Gym Breakthrough

“What if it isn’t written perfectly?
“Should I really send that email?”
“What if this doesn’t help someone?”
“I haven’t written or blogged in a long time.”
“Can I really do this?”

Limiting beliefs encourage me to play it safe, to not push myself to places that could help me grow. Recently, however, I have been writing each limiting thought down as they arise in order to help myself take action.

I started applying this activity to my exercise habits, which helped me reach a tremendous physical health breakthrough.

Limiting thoughts like the ones above are what BLOCKED me from starting things that pushed me outside of my comfort zone. And so, I began associating these “BLOCKING” thoughts to “GROWTH BLOCKS!”

I wanted my brain to recognize, “Oh shit! GROWTH BLOCKS! And run towards breaking through supposed limitations instead of running away from them.

This means that when I meet a GROWTH BLOCK!, I have the chance to break through, grow, and re-associate a new meaning to the action. This process leads to a behavior outcome that is healthier for the brain and body.

I break down the specific steps in this article. But first…my gym story.


My old self at the gym would do the number of reps that I knew for certain that I could do, and stop there.

Why? I didn’t want to experience the feeling of uncertainty. I wanted to ensure success. Success here being that I hit my goal on the first try.

Funny what the mind does…

So let’s cut the bullshit. Truth is, I didn’t want to feel failure.

A GROWTH BLOCK appeared!

So, in between sets during my rest breaks, I’m on my Notes App on my phone. I’m capturing GROWTH BLOCKS that appear in my mind:

“I don’t know if I can do this weight.”
“I don’t know if I can finish.”

My new belief at the gym is this: No matter what happens, I will hit my goal (of 8 reps). I will give my all to each rep until my body fails me. And when that happens, I will immediately get up (adjust the weight or support) and keep going.

That is my new and healthier definition of success. Instead of doubting myself, I believe in myself.

Deciding and feeling 100% certainty that THIS TIME I will complete all 8 reps in one go (desired outcome and standard) is something that I now commit to every day. It is so much more satisfying knowing that I will do and be everything that I know is possible. It may not always happen exactly the way that I want it to, and yet I continue to try, I continue to believe, I take in a deep breath, and I do it anyways.

This new way of experiencing the gym is still a work in progress for me, and it may be that way forever. Truth be told, it has taken me a while to appreciate this tiny brain unlock.

Yet for the first time, I am at the gym running 100% speed towards the face of uncertainty, and it feels great.

“He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty”
- Tao Te Ching

For the method behind my thought process at the gym, see my post METHOD: 3 Steps to Changing Your Beliefs in 3 Minutes.

This article was written by David Ngo, Founder of Behavior Delta LLC.