Drugs, drugs, drugs, drugs! Who’s using them? I don’t care what he says — he’s not fooling me! What? You’re accusing me of using steroids? Hey, I’m not one of those guys! Do you know how long and how hard I’ve been training? How dare you say that about me!
In my opinion, too many natural bodybuilders are absolutely obsessed with talking about the subject of drug use. They spend too much time determining who they feel is using them, passing judgment upon them, and at the same time defending their drug-free status against the assumptions of others. These discussions dominate many of conversations among the naturals all over the country and that kind of talk is a true shame.
This banter seems harmless, don’t you think? Besides, those drug-users deserve the verbal attacks, right? “Participating in this kind of gossip and making my assumptions will not affect me because I’m a natural bodybuilder!” a person might reason. You couldn’t be more wrong. Involving yourself in this useless talk will ultimately prevent you from being the best you can be without drugs. And collectively, this negativity will stall the progress of the natural bodybuilding movement for all of us. You are probably asking yourself, “How can putting those ‘steroid freaks’ and those guys ‘pretending’ to be natural in their place harmfully affect me?” How did you feel when you gossiped about others you thought were on drugs? Have you ever had to defend yourself against the false accusations that you were using drugs? How did that make you feel? How long have you been training? Are you significantly better now than when you first started? Are you somewhat surprised that you were actually able to achieve this kind of development naturally? Do you plan on continuing to train naturally? How much better do you think you will be when you have twice as many years of training? If you have to defend your drug-free status now, how much defending are you going to have to do later? Isn’t that something to look forward to? Have you ever gossiped with your friends about a particular bodybuilder who has at least twice as much experience in the gym as you? At the same time, do you defend your drug-free status against people in the gym with half as much experience as you? Every natural bodybuilder with any degree of development has unfortunately experienced most, if not all, of these scenarios.
Peak performance coach Anthony Robbins professes that everything we do in life is either to gain pleasure or to avoid pain. Think about this for a moment. Isn’t that why you have a job? Isn’t it to earn money, which will enable you to buy things, which will bring you pleasure? Why do you do things like buy your friends birthday gifts? Isn’t it to show them how much you care about them, to bring them pleasure, and to see them smile, all of which will bring you pleasure? Why do you work out? Isn’t it to build your physique, which will make you healthy, to make you look and feel better, and make you experience more pleasure? None of us want to experience pain in our lives. We will do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure. Our attempt to avoid pain is obvious when someone stays in a job or in a relationship he or she does not necessarily enjoy. Instead of taking action to get them in a more pleasurable situation, fear of getting into an even worse situation keeps them there. Their desire to avoid the uncertainty is greater than their desire to get into a happier position. “At least,” they rationalize, “I know what I can expect.”
Avoiding pain can affect the potential of natural bodybuilders. How so? Very simple: Although we train very hard to improve our physiques, we are ultimately held back from becoming our best when we realize, either consciously or unconsciously, we will experience some level of pain from our peers if we become what they consider “too good.” “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, day and night, to make you like everybody else is to fight the hardest battle which any human can fight…but never stop fighting!” – E. E. Cummings
One part of your brain is striving to be the very best. Simultaneously, another part of your brain fears that your character will be attacked and your hard work will not be acknowledged or appreciated. Maybe in the same aggressive fashion you are currently attacking those with more development than you. This point is definitely something you should think about. Having this attitude is like driving your car with the parking brake on. Although you may be going forward, and maybe even at a good pace, you are not achieving your full potential under those limiting conditions.
Admitting that you are susceptible to the negative opinions of others is a hard thing to do. Nobody wants to believe they can be manipulated by other people. As I interview the top natural bodybuilders, I often ask them how being accused of using drugs makes them feel. Their first conditioned response is that they “take the attack as a compliment.” But, a few questions later they start revealing the pain the attacks cause them. They often feel that their efforts, discipline, knowledge, years of training, and genetics are not fully appreciated — except by their family and a few people who really know them.
I have to admit, I fell victim to this destructive way thinking between 1995 and 1996. After winning the heavyweight class in the NPC Team Universe that year, I received probably more national recognition than any other natural bodybuilder. Many fans appreciated my efforts, but many questioned my credibility and character. On one hand, the pride of winning the class made me hungry for a higher level of achievement. On the other hand, it caused me a certain level of pain because I take far more pride in myself as a person than I do as I bodybuilder. It took me a while to realize this, but subconsciously my brain knew that the better I get, the more negative attention or pain I might attract. I would sometimes think to myself, “Boy, if I’m getting this kind of negative reaction now, how much more will I receive in a few years when I significantly improve?” I know what some of you are saying, “I don’t worry about what other people say about me, I know I don’t use drugs!” Whether you want to admit this to yourself or not, the same situation is affecting you to some degree – even if very slightly. I wasted much of my time and energy with such thought. Admitting to myself that I was affected negatively wasn’t easy, but the realization helped me put the issue behind me. Hopefully you can learn from my experience.
The more you engage in this type of negative discussion, the more you plant in your brain the notion that the better you get, the more people will be talking about you in the same fashion you talked about those who were better than you. Without even being aware of that talk’s affect, you will be sabotaging success at the level you truly deserve. How do you expect your brain to work properly under these conditions? Are you going to say to yourself, “I’m going to train my butt off! I’m going sacrifice my time and energy — just so the guys rip me like I rip the top natural guys of today! That negative attention is going to be great! I can’t wait until this happens!” I don’t think you will.
If you say to yourself, “You can’t look like (insert name of a top natural bodybuilder here) without drugs!” You know what? You have just created a “ceiling” limiting just how good you can possibly get. Your brain now “knows” taking your physique to that level is impossible, so it will not work towards developing your physique with 100 percent effort and intensity. Once you come to this “intelligent” conclusion, you have now become too smart to produce an all-out effort attempting something that is impossible. The moment these words leave your mouth, you have sealed your fate – regardless of how promising your genetic potential might have been. Rising above your words will be very difficult. Maybe you could have become better than some of the top guys. Who knows? And if you think you’ll just “back into” a great physique, think again! Attaining a great body without laser-like focus, a determined work ethic, and the absolute faith that your efforts will lead to you realizing your dreams is much too difficult with that limiting belief. With your self-fulfilling prophecy, you will probably settle for far less than you are genetically capable of achieving. You are hypnotizing yourself with your negative thoughts and words.
Haven’t you already been surprised with the development you have achieved without drugs so far? Do you also expect to improve greatly in the future? Is there the possibility that the best natural bodybuilders in the country are doing things better than you or have better genetic potential to grow? The mind can only achieve what it can conceive. Maybe you will continue to surprise yourself and get better and better. Maybe you will get so good that you will convince yourself that much more is attainable than you currently think is possible. Think about that the next time you refer to yourself as a “hardgainer” also. What exactly does that mean? Does it mean every one of your body parts has a hard time growing, or just a couple of them? Who are you comparing yourself to? Flex Wheeler or that genetically superior guy in your gym? The truth is that most of us on this planet would be considered hardgainers compared to them. How would a hardgainer approach his training? Does he attack it with confidence and certainty? Does he feel that the next strategy or method he tries will launch him into a new level of growth? Is he excited to get to the gym because he feels his hard work is going to pay off in a big way? Or does a hardgainer believe that regardless of the methods he tries or regardless of the amount of effort he exerts, he can only achieve minimal results? Is a hardgainer willing to continually “bang his head against the wall” under these conditions? Is a hardgainer more likely to say that anyone with great development must be on drugs? Referring to yourself with a disempowering label such as hardgainer is definitely something you should reconsider.
How can you minimize these negative effects preventing you from building an outstanding physique? How can you achieve a physique that is true to your full potential? How can you go for that body in an all-out fashion? Rid yourself of negative gossip about others. Treat bodybuilders who are better than you with the same respect you think you deserve from those that you have earned better development. Give them the same benefit of the doubt you expect from others.
If you are currently caught up in this way of thinking, I can totally empathize with you because I was once there too. After just 13 months of training, I won my first show at a ripped 200 pounds. While I had to defend my drug-free status, I still had the audacity to assume that the guys in the gym who were bigger than me were on drugs. What did I know? I had just a little over a year of training under my belt. I feel fortunate to say I got off that “train going nowhere fast” and began thinking differently. I started giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. I adopted the belief that if I ate right, trained harder and smarter, and reached an advanced level of experience, I would be as good or better than the guys in the gym were. Reaching my current level of development without doing so would not have been possible.
The sad truth is that many people in the gym will never be able to break through this mindset. The best way to prevent this from happening to you is to be proactive and get rid of this way of thinking – and do so now! Maybe now is the time to realize how you have been sabotaging your efforts with your words. Maybe now is the time to notice that your parking brake was left on. Maybe now is the time to release that brake, slam the accelerator down to the floor, and kick your training into overdrive!