Pushing our limits is not something we naturally like to do. Our instincts tell us to play it safe and keep something in reserve. For our ancestors, this made a lot of sense. Food was scarce, so you didn’t want to expend more energy than you had to. When you’re in the wild, expending all your energy can leave you defenseless and you never know when you might have to deal with a bear or some other adversary.
However, now that most of us live in relatively comfortable circumstances, where we’re not likely go hungry or have to fight off predators, our reluctance to push our limits can be a major liability. Pushing our limits is when we get stronger. It’s true today as it was for our ancient ancestors that our bodies will not make adaptations unless absolutely necessary. That typically happens when we regularly push to the very edge of our abilities, which is often uncomfortable. Our bodies are actually incredibly stingy in defining our limits. They like to keep very wide margins in case of emergency.
There’s a principle called the “40 percent rule,” which says that when you feel completely exhausted, you’re really only 40 percent exhausted. You still have over half a tank. You can trick yourself into using some of that remaining 60 percent in various ways. Studies have found, for example, that can rinse your mouth with sugar water or take a caffeine pill that’s really a placebo to tap into that 60 percent reserve. However, the best way to do it is just to train yourself to go a little bit extra. When you think you’ve done all you can do, try just a little more. The discomfort is what forces you to adapt. Most of us know this intuitively. It’s why we add weights to the bar even though it makes it harder. The trick is creating a mindset where you actually embrace it.
What’s true in the gym is true in life too. Every new challenge is hard at first and we don’t like it. It makes us uncomfortable and requires extra energy. That’s true whether you’re talking about starting recovery, starting a new job, or moving to a new city. New challenges can feel overwhelming and we’re often afraid we’ll fail. Sometimes we will fail at first, but more often than not, you find the strength to keep going. What was hard one day becomes easier the next. In a year, you’ll forget it was ever hard. However, once you overcome one challenge, it’s time to find a new one. You only continue to grow stronger as long as you continue to challenge yourself.
If you’ve been struggling with drugs or alcohol, we can help you build a better life. At Tree House Recovery in Orange County, California, we’re helping men create the sustainable changes necessary to build a sustainable recovery. Call us today for information: (855) 202-2138