The Problem with the Grind Mindset

Why the grind mindset doesn’t work and what you should do instead.

My journey to discovering True Body Intelligence started at a very young age. I had a mother who experienced high levels of stress due to a traumatic event at the age of 13. Without delving into the details, her boundaries were violated by a family member. As a result, she transitioned from being a consistent A student to a D or F student, and eventually dropped out of school. Through my research, I’ve found that individuals who endure traumatic experiences often pass on those effects to their children. Unfortunately, this leads those children to operate in a state of hyper vigilance.

I was one of those children.

So for me, enlisting in Navy SEAL training and making it to SEAL teams matched the level of stress that I had churning inside of me.

I thought Navy SEAL training was great!

But I was young – just 20 years old. I was in what they would call the prime of your life. (Although, I don’t think that’s true now.) I ended up getting through SEAL training and onto the SEAL teams. Shortly after I left the SEAL community, I went back into training. My goal was to make it to the Olympic trails for track and field. I wanted a real shot at making it to the Olympics.

The reason why I chose that goal was because, at the time, it seemed like everything was working out really well for me when I was an athlete. When those moons aligned correctly, everything seemed to go well for me with effortless effort.

The Grind Mindset

So, I jumped back into the challenging role of being an athlete with a SEAL team mindset. That mindset is, “Grind, grind, grind, and keep grinding. If you can out-grind the next person, you’re going to win at life.”

In reality, this mindset works great for the SEAL teams. But for high performance athletes, that mindset is completely false. The grind mindset doesn’t work in this case (and in most cases outside the SEALs), because your body never has a chance to recover.

In my case, I ended up with a lot of common ailments like knee, hip, ankle, shoulder and neck pain. But then it began to shift into other symptoms – vision and hearing loss, insomnia.

On the outside, I looked like Adonis. I was lean and as strong as can be. But underneath the hood, I had all kinds of pain. I was waking up 5-10 times per night to go to the bathroom. A doctor told me that I would need a hip replacement sooner, rather than later.

It didn’t make any sense to me.

When I was younger and training, I recall a couple of minor injuries that lasted for 10 days, or so. And then they were gone. But suddenly, I had them consistently. Instead of being every once in a blue moon, they were chronic.

I didn’t know it at the time, but when you have chronic pain and chronic discomfort, that’s your first sign that you are pushing too hard on the gas, and you need to pump the brakes.

In fact, any time that you have pain in your body, you need to pump the brakes.

Let’s look at a few examples:

If you have a poor night’s sleep two or three weeks in a row, something’s going on.

When you’re having difficulty moving your bowels on a regular basis, something’s going on.

If you’re squinting when you read or you’re holding the phone three or four feet away from your eyes, there’s something going on. Those eyes are meant to see, right?

Why the Grind Mindset Doesn’t Work

When you grind and push too hard, eventually, your body is going to push back. It will start giving you signs, like the examples above. The grind mindset doesn’t work because it does not give your body the necessary time to rest and recuperate.

While training for the Olympic trials, I was ignoring every sign my body gave me that I was overdoing it. This is because I was institutionalized to believe that I needed to go hard every day, all day long.

I never stopped to consider that I actually wasn’t built to grind constantly.

This realization was really the growth point for me because I had to reach out and ask for help. Asking for help is something I never did before because I experienced a lot of stress and trauma growing up. Humans who grow up with stress and trauma are hyper-independent and often carry an unhealthy level of pride. The last thing they want to do is reach out to someone and ask for help – to show weakness.

At the time, I was operating from a subconscious level and an unconscious level, rather than actual conscious choice. When humans are severely stressed, they operate from subconscious and unconscious stress patterns. They don’t actually have any perspective of why they’re operating the way that they are. They’re just simply responding to stimulus. I was definitely in stimulus response mode at that time in my life. I was hyper vigilant; and so the more I did, the more I felt like I was alive.

Yet, every morning, I had to crawl out of bed – literally. I could feel the cost of the constant grind. But I continued to keep ignoring it because I bought into a SEAL team mentality.

There are a lot of guys in the SEAL teams who are out in the public pushing that message hard.

“Grind, grind, grind, and keep grinding. If you can out-grind the next person, you’re going to win at life.”

But at the end of the day, you have to step back and ask yourself if that mindset is helping or hurting you.

The Alternative to the Grind Mindset that Actually Works

If you decide that it’s hurting you, I encourage you to embrace a balance mindset where you prioritize both hard work and self-care. By listening to your body’s cues and giving yourself the rest you need, you’ll actually enhance your performance and overall well-being. True success is only achieved when you take care of yourself first. Embrace the power of balance and watch yourself thrive in all aspects of your life.

I’ve learned that it’s better to grow through ease and grace; because if you don’t, you’ll eventually struggle and fail to reach your full potential.

Noticing how your body responds to stress will allow you to manage it in a better and healthier way, which will help your body correct itself, reducing the high cost and care of chronic, long-term health problems.

The first step in achieving your goals while taking care of your mind, body and soul, is to strip away the primal and generational layers of fear-based strategies and structures of unresolved stress, tension, and distortion, created by pre-cognitive limiting beliefs. Once they are gone, you will be free to make way for love-based strategies that bring you well-defined boundaries, authentic self expression, and clear communication.

If you or someone you love is stuck and suffering from the effects of unresolved physical, emotional, energetic or mental distress, reading my book, Free for Life, can be the first hopeful step towards bringing your entire life into a state of wholeness, perpetual freedom and happiness.

To learn more about my story and how I discovered that the grind mindset doesn’t work, purchase Free for Life here.

If you would like to explore working with me one-on-one after reading Free for Life, I encourage you to explore my Rational Intimate Transfiguration program. The purpose of the program is to shift you out of the protective mode and into the receptive mode so that you can manifest destiny with effortless effort, ease, and grace – NOT by grinding your body into exhaustion. Learn more here.


Christopher Lee Maher is a former Navy SEAL who endured intense amounts of physical, mental, and emotional stress as a child and during and after his military career. He has taught himself how to free his energy, body, mind and emotions from pain by developing the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of being. Christopher studied Traditional Chinese Medical Practices at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and at Yo San University, then continued his studies at The Universal Healing Tao System. He is a student of Grand Master Mantak Chia at the Universal Tao Master School in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and is currently pursuing his Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

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