This is a phrase I said to myself last Saturday. So I'll paint you a picture.
Almost 13 months ago I pulled 584 & 600 in competition. Then in May I pulled 584, 606, and 617 in competition. In neither of those preps did I pull more than 578. I even tried to pull 584/585 on two occasions and missed.
Now in my most recent prep I pulled 585 3 times and 590 once. Going into my last heavy pull at 2 weeks out, I wanted to hit 600. So after my last warm-up at 565, I loaded 600. I sat down and thought about how I had pulled 4 singles this prep that I had never done in the gym. And as I tightened my belt I said to myself "I've earned this." And that 600 moved faster than the 590 a week before.
I did the same thing 2 days later for my last heavy squat. I thought about how much work I put into my squat. The technical improvements, the depth consistency, the increased control. And without hesitation I loaded 495 for a 10lb PR.
Now, I don't want you to interpret this to be as a barrier, that you have to do x, y, & z to justify lifting heavy. Rather this is about confidence. Telling myself "I've earned this", is an acknowledgement all the work I've done this prep.
But it also needs to be an honest statement. I like to believe confidence is not something you can muster up, or fake. To me confidence is something you earn, but also have to acknowledge. If you project confidence, but haven't put in the work to justify it, well that's being cocky. And if you put in the work but never give yourself credit, that's doubt. And if you put in some of the work, acknowledge both the good and the bad, well that's honesty.
Lastly, you could have the perfect prep that justifies the weight you put on the bar... and you could still miss it. Being able to say "I've earned this" doesn't mean you will lift it. It means you've earned the right to attempt this weight.
So, two lessons can be learned here.
1. Do your best to do the work needed to justify the numbers you want.
2. Acknowledge the work you do, good or bad.