10 Tips to Break Through Mental Barriers

What separates the top athletes and successful people from those that are average or just plain outright losers?

Top athletes use several techniques to get them over and around obstacles and moving towards their goals.

How bad do you want to work and finish the drill? Do you have the skills to get it done? Check out these tips for breaking through mental barriers.

Tip #1: Know your fears and reverse them

You must know everything that you truly believe about this goal – by listing down on paper the very first feelings that enter your head when you imagine achieving your goal, giving special attention to any fears that come up in your mind.

These fears are the mental roadblocks you must overcome to achieve your goal, as otherwise they can be the very things that prevent you ‘turning it on’ when you need it most in the pool.

Look at these fears you must overcome, sitting there on the piece of paper.

Now, each day, you have to work positively on reversing each of these before your race arrives, by constantly instilling confidence into your daily visualization, your affirmations and your daily thoughts—steadily increasing your power and diminishing the fear.

QUESTION: What are some Navy SEAL techniques for getting through stressful challenges?

ANSWER: Check out the tips I give here to work through stress and get the job done.

Tip #2: Break down barriers into micro goals

This is also called “chunking down.” Doing this makes the task not seem so big.

Take one little step at a time and always forward. The more you focus on the goal as a whole, the more unreachable it will feel. This is why they have what are called “evolutions” at BUD/S—each phase is broken down into smaller ones. Then you mentally break those down into even smaller ones.

Sometimes it’s so small, the micro goal is simply moving one foot and then the other as you head towards a landmark—a rock on the beach, a number in your head you gradually increase (50 steps/100/150).

Tip #3: Compartmentalize your problems

If you start any race, run or even casual training routine with a bad attitude, your mental barriers will grow into mountains. If you are having problems in your personal life, don’t think about it.

Tell yourself that you will worry when you get back. Run with a clear mind. Focus on the beauty of the scenery, the sky or how proud you are of your own body, and the fact that you are running.

QUESTION: What are some affirmations overcome mental roadblocks?

ANSWER: I like to use simple ones like “looking good, feeling good, outa be in Hollywood”. Or “feeling strong..haha..livin’ strong..haha.

Tip #4: Be willing to take risks

If you always stay and play it safe, you won’t grow. You’ll stay scared and always working from a place of fear. This is how you stay stuck. Risks can mean failure but it’s failure that pushes us harder to grow and it’s how we learn.

No risks, no learning. No learning, no growth.

It’s really easy to stay in your comfort zone, because then you can always feel safe. But that’s how you start feeling stagnated. If you have a goal, you have to get past your current mental and physical barriers to reach it.

Just because your friends are afraid to take risks, it doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you. Listening to negativity means you’re letting other people dictate your choices.

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Tip #5: Learn how to eat well

Eat nutritious meals before your workout—or any step that’s taking you towards your particular goal—because good mental attitude relies partly on proper nourishment. Certain foods actually feed your brain what it needs to think clearly. For example, carbohydrates are fuel for the body as well as the mind.

The better your body feels, the less likely you are to have mental barriers. Drink plenty of fluids that contain electrolytes, which create better brain-to-muscle communication. Electric signals pass through nerves using electrolytes as conductors.

Staying well-hydrated will help break down mental and physical barriers while running.

QUESTION: Coach, how do you get past psychological barriers when running?

ANSWER: Whether it is running, lifting weights or studying for an academic test we use all of the tips above to push through barriers and get to our goals faster.

Tip #6: Find your focus

Top athletes know their goals and where to apply focus.

Read this quote from Ian Thorpe, world record swimmer:

“As soon as I got back in the water after the Olympics (10 months ago), I’ve been preparing myself for this meet and focusing on every single one of my swims. I am usually the hardest person to race against. I try to do the best I can, no matter on what level. I didn’t care what anyone else was doing, I just prepared myself to race,” he said.

Listen to what a Navy SEAL says about Breaking Through Mental Barriers

QUESTION: How do you go about breaking down barriers to improving your life?

ANSWER: I would look first at what my goals are and align all of my activities so that they are productive towards my goal. If not productive then get rid of it. Instead of watching TV for an hour before you go to bed replace that with reading a book that will help you get ahead and learn. That is the start of breaking down barriers to improving your life.

Tip #7: Believe in yourself

Yes, this is something you hear all the time and it may sound like a cliche. But it’s true. There’s a reason coaches keep saying it. If YOU don’t believe in YOURSELF, then you’re listening to someone else’s negativity.

What you believe will always determine what you achieve. Michael Jordan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lebron James, Herschel Walker, Tiger Woods….none of them could have won their events without knowing deep down that it was actually possible.

That’s right, before they went out there to race, they knew they could win. Not that they would win, but that they could. If I didn’t believe I could graduate BUD/S and go on to serve on the teams and listened to all the people telling me I couldn’t, I wouldn’t have. It’s that simple.

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Tip #8: Read good info

It’s why we post up the interviews and articles in the SEALgrinderPT Membership area.

“You will be transformed by what you read.” ― Deepak Chopra”. You are the daily sum of what you read and absorb.

If your mind is filled with clutter and junk—how can you transform your ideas to become successful?

Top athletes exercise their mind just like the muscles in their bodies. They carefully select information and feed their minds to make them strong. You must do the same. Pick a good book and spend 5 minutes a day reading.

Your mind is a muscle and you must build it.

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QUESTION: What are the mental barriers of working out?

ANSWER: For many it can just be the pain that they think they will feel. That they will get out of their comfort zone.

Tip #9: Be coachable

You must be coachable and willing to learn. Seek out people who have knowledge and skills you want and ask them to teach you. If you’re asking for help, then accept it. If you reject it and act like a know-it-all then you won’t grow the way you want. Asking for help is a strength. Not a weakness.

It’s how we were successful on the teams. We each had a role, but by asking for help, we got stronger. It also makes things easier.

QUESTION: What are the mental barriers of working out?

ANSWER: For many it can just be the pain that they think they will feel. That they will get out of their comfort zone.

Tip #10 Find a mentor

Anyone can be on a journey to greatness.

You have to find a master (Sensei) to help you on your course – but also be willing to submit and learn under the master. Sometimes athletes believe they know it all or are unwilling to absorb the higher teachings from the Master.

Find a coach or a group of people that aspire to help each other to move forward (mastermind group). If these athletes are at a higher level than you then this will make you work harder to get to their level.

QUESTION: How do I go about breaking physiological barriers to be fearless?

ANSWER: Check out the tips above.


Brad McLeod is married with two kids and an all around average family guy.

He flunked out of Navy SEAL BUD/S training after making it over half way through (6 months of grueling training).

After a year in the Fleet Navy on a ship he came back to graduate and serve on SEAL Team Four.

His story is simple–Don’t Ever Quit on your Dream! Put one foot in front of the other and fall forward.

Proceeds from this website go to help raise funds for the Navy SEAL Foundation.


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