During almost thirty years of training, and especially leading up the 1994 Mr. USA title, the most difficult lesson I ever had to learn was to let go of the past. We all have a tendency to hold onto the wrongs others have done and said to us, or the regrets of not having done something. I had to learn to dry-clean the past and leave out the parts that were holding me back. The experiences and messages of worthlessness that were inadvertently or purposely put into the memory banks needed to be removed and rewritten with positive affirmations. For myself, and for many people I have personally trained and worked with, about 80% of what we learn as we grow up is how incapable and undeserving we are. Praise is hardly ever given for fear of cultivating a big ego. But it is usually the egos of other people that hold us back and keep us from ever experiencing the true success we are each capable of achieving. We all have tremendous capabilities that lie dormant but this becomes blocked because of programming we receive from family, friends, and teachers as we grow up.
I have found two things that helped me overcome these obstacles. One, of course, is weight training and consistently pushing myself to physically do more in terms of repetitions, weight, and training efficiency (the time it takes to complete a workout). But that’s the obvious one, the one that people could see. The not-so-obvious pursuit, the one that people could not see, was the meditative, mental-strengthening process that occurred during that training. What I was doing during my training for big competitions like the 1994 Mr. USA was working out alone and focusing on two things: developing my outer self (the visible muscles) and my inner self, the mind (this was the invisible strength). I was clearing out my mind in order to accomplish goals that I had been advised to believe were out of my reach. The basement gym in wintertime, and garage gym in summertime, both became a sanctuary where eliminating doubts and reprogramming my mind to accomplish short-term goals became the order of the day. I was reordering my mind by letting go of my past.
That was the first step. I became proficient at learning how to disconnect from every one’s negative ideas about who they thought I should be. I ignored discouraging remarks and outright putdowns. It became obvious that they were stating only what they thought was possible and not what actually was possible. I didn’t blame or argue with them; I smiled and continued to quietly work on my own goals in terms of strength and health. Going beyond what other people’s ideas of what you are “supposed to be” can make others feel very uncomfortable. You will be reminded of this illusion when others make direct or indirect comments about how you’re overstepping the boundaries of their expectations. This is where most people’s lives hit their set point. They’ve had some success and get congratulations, but they’re also reminded that they shouldn’t really expect more from life.
That’s when I learned the second step to letting go of my past reducing contact with the naysayers. In the case of those who were constantly peddling a you can't do that philosophy, it had to be total abstinence. Sad but true. Just like the alcoholic who joins AA and truly wants to give up drinking, he or she must be willing to get rid of their old drinking buddies. I realized that if I tried to convince everyone who was telling me that I’d never achieve my goal, I would be wasting valuable time and energy — time and energy I needed to accomplish those goals! Continuing relationships with these people was a no-win situation. Walking away was the peaceful approach. No arguments, or convincing anyone. Instead, I focused on accomplishing the goals and dreams I intended. It’s impossible to soar with eagles while you are hanging around with turkeys. This is a hard aspect of letting go of your past, but if you stay committed to your goal, it will happen naturally. You can still love them, you can wish them well, but you don’t have to think like them.
The final and most important aspect of letting go of the past was to realize that all the negative mental programming from the past doesn’t simply go away by reading one book or listening to one audio-program. Like installing new software on your computer that has an expiration date, it must be continually re-installed, over and over again. This is how the dis-empowering ideas got into your memory banks in the first place; they became a habit, just like everything else. You have to make the positive enforcement in your life a habit the same way. Once I found a good book or audio-program on positive thinking, I committed myself to read it or listen to it again and again to commit it to memory. My mind would have to digest new, positive material so thoroughly, that only empowering thoughts would be the first response in any situation. Without continuous reinforcement, old habits have a way of resurfacing.
Learning empowering, positive thoughts while replacing the old, dis-empowering ones takes diligence, but in time, you will make it a habit. Moving toward my intended goals, learning to let go of the past and replacing old negative programming with new ideas and new ways, became the cornerstone of my mental game plan after my devastating injuries, and have been part of my thinking to this day. I hope you are able to do the same on your path to success.
Buddy Dreimann has been bodybuilding, and powerlifting since 1976, and has been involved in competitive bodybuilding since 1979. He is the overall winner of 1994 Mr. USA (NABBA), overall Winner of the 1994 Mr. Eastern America (NABBA), 1994 NABBA Mr. Universe finalist. He is a motivational speaker, a certified personal trainer and a certified sports nutrition counselor. He spent twenty years as Computer-Systems Application Development Programmer & Manager, five years as a New York State University Instructor for Grumman Computer Application Training Schools, and also served as a sworn Law Enforcement Officer from 2011 to 2014. He is available for training and fitness consultations and motivational seminars. He can be contacted at: Buddy Dreimann, Mr.USA Seminars, PO Box 10947, Wilmington, North Carolina, 28404 or on his website at www.BuddyDreimann.com