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Give Me Weakness and Injury or Give Me Death

Handling Setbacks

Figure 1. Do nagging injuries have you wanting to pull your hair out?1

Injury, weakness, physical and/or mental short comings have been on my mind of late. All these thoughts are stemming from various nagging injuries that are irking me and making my training a bit hit and miss. These little irritating strains/sprains are the hardest for me to handle. I’m guessing that most athletes who have trained for any serious amount of time probably know what I’m referring to – The small minuscule injuries or sickness that don’t debilitate you, but just hamper you; keep you from being able to train 100% or feeling just right. They make me piss and moan way more then I should about something so little.

On the other end of the spectrum, are severe debilitating injuries. Hit me with something catastrophic, a blown bicep, a truck running me over, a major illness and its nothing. There is no questioning or harping from me over these issues; it simply kicks in GO TIME! It’s time to get things done and prove this “ain’t getting me down.” It’s during these moments that I prove to myself and others that I’ll come out the other end not only as strong as prior, but stronger and smarter.

Bouncing these ideas around in my head got my thinking about setbacks as it relates to the population as a whole. How do people deal with personal weaknesses, stress, injuries, and life happenings big and small? Based off my experience, most people see such occurrences as a negative in their life. They try and hide these negatives from others as well as themselves. They invite these stresses into their heads, limiting them from progressing through it or even trying new things. Worse yet, they may cry and moan to about it to others, blaming everyone but themselves as they make excuses about the position they’re in. Some individuals may even seek pity to cope with their mishaps in life in attempts to hear others say that they aren’t weak, or capable of fault. To this I say in my worst Shakespearean dialect:

“Hide not from thy infirmity. Find delectation in your feeble idiosyncrasy’s. Employ thine as kindling for extraneous furtherance. Duel. Combat each torpid archetype, perpetually crafting quintessence from wretched frailty. Only with such will thine be in nigher dominion of impeccability.”

HA!!! You gotta love how I mastered the use of the thesaurus in the above paragraph ;-)

For those of you who have horrible memories of Shakespearean dialect from high school literature class, let me explain it another way… What I’m saying above is, “Do the opposite of those feeble minded, weak willed individuals. The greatest progress in my training, and life in general, have consistently stemmed from the fruit of something negative (horrible happenings, an injury, or maybe even identifying a personal weakness). I then grasp hold of whatever it may be, control it, and make it mine. I don’t look at the issue at hand as something that I must accept, or better yet, something that controls me. I attack it; I assault that which tries to define or limit me. I control it. I view these happenings as the next little hurdle in this journey on mine. It’s the next personal battle that stands between me and my goals. I use it as fuel for my fire to progress and be far better than average. I turn a negative situation into a position of power.

It’s a constant battle, but an empowering one.

Allow yourself to own you.

Figure 2. Stand up and flex your muscles when faced with a little adversity.2

If anything is the number one reason for the weakness of the general population today it’s simply not having the gumption, or balls, to realize you control you. It’s OK to smack life in its collective face from time to time. It’s OK to have opinions. It’s OK to show a little aggression from time to time. We are NOT meant to be pawns and live life 100% by the wishes of others. Get a little selfish. Play a little rough. It’s not only OK, it’s a POSITIVE trait.

It has come to the point where people can’t handle even the smallest little bump in the road without having a break down. In these instances they expect pity, help, or flat out give up on what they were after, justifying it to themselves by saying, “It’s TO HARD!!” Boo Hoo. When you got a problem there is a 99% chance you created it yourself, with your actions or in-actions. So shut your whining to others, get up and fix it. Don’t bow down and be its slave, expecting sympathy or help for every little bump in your personal road. Don’t simply accept the fact that, “This is the way it is, and what I’m destined to be” or “I just got dealt bad cards and have to live with it.” That’s BS, YOU’RE the man. YOU’RE the one and only individual that has true control of you; be it gearing up for the next battle or letting yourself fly. Take some responsibility for your life and your actions. Go get what you want.

Use life’s little bumps as fuel for further progression. Realize and believe that the grass is greener on the other side of the hurdle. However, realize that it’s your job to jump that fence and claim that grass as your own. We all got problems. Deal with yours.

It’s important for all individuals to look at their personal weaknesses, be it in training or life in general. If one has no self perceived weakness, they have apparently reached a state of perfection; A state that requires no further progression. That’s all well and good but I see that in itself as a negative. Perfection by definition demands stagnation. You can’t do any better. You might as well die or stop following your life’s calling as you have nothing further to strive for tomorrow.

Weakness, injury, and failure is NOT a negative, a defining characteristic of you, or an ending. It’s a new beginning; a chance to get stronger; a new and unique challenge. It’s those whom consistently take these head on, refuse to back down, piss or moan that progress to excellence.

You got to keep rolling over your own never ending hurdles. Man up and find joy in the fact they aren’t going to end. They will keep coming, and that with each one, comes a new chance to build yourself into something greater than your current self. Life’s never going to be all crème filling. You’re going to have to keep chomping through the crust to keep that sweet goodness coming. If you man up, those bumps will not only be less frequent but you’ll actually look forward to your journey over them, as well as the new you you’ll find on the other side.


1 Photo taken by stuartpilbow. Accessed September 30, 2010 from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuartpilbrow/3345896050/sizes/m/in/photostream/

2 Photo taken by RightIndex. Accessed September 30, 2010 from:

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Written on September 30, 2010 by Phil Stevens
Last Updated: October 01, 2010

This information is not intended to take the place of medical advice.Please check with your health care providers prior to starting any new dietary or exercise program. CasePerformance is not responsible for the outcome of any decision made based off the information presented in this article.

About the Author: Coach Phil Stevens is an accomplished strength athlete with considerable experience in Powerlifting, strongman competition, and highland games. Phil is the 2007 APA World Champion in the 242-pound class (total). He has held the APF 275-pound class raw National bench, squat, deadlift, and total records. Phil’s marquis lift was his 725-pound raw beltless deadlift, performed on February, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. He has been ranked in the “Top 10” in the deadlift across all national powerlifting federations. In addition, Phil has in a few short months moved to the A class in highland games with the goal of going Pro. His coaching services are avalable by clicking on the Strength Sport Consultation tab.
Professional Commitments:In addition to his coaching duties, he also serves as the California State Chair for the North American Highlander Association, as well as the founder of Lift For Hope an annual strength competition with proceeds donated to charity. He also runs his own printing business (business cards to t-shirts with everything in between) that can be found at www.bingcolorprint.com.