I always lift scared, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
When I was a young buck, I never worried about getting injured. Always felt that so long as I 1) warmed up properly, and 2) didn’t do anything truly stupid (“Gee, I’ve always wondered what it feels like to try and bench 600#–give me a lift-off, wouldja?”), I needn’t worry about getting injured.
This is no longer the case. At 51, I have accumulated enough joint/tendon damage so that even moderate weights pose a risk of catastrophic orthopedic injury. (I am s/p biceps tendon rupture and quad tendon rupture, both of which required open surgical repair.) Case in point–another 35+ TN lifter recently underwent surgery for a pec tear incurred while benching a weight well below his max. (Sorry, but I’m drawing a blank at the moment as to his username. He has a thread entitled 'Pec tear" with some cool intra-op pics posted in the Injuries sub-forum.) Because of the ever-present risk of injury, I now ‘lift scared’ in the sense that part of my awareness is always devoted to monitoring how my muscles and joints feel–sort of like a chaperone, there to make sure things don’t get ‘out of hand.’ If the chaperone detects a tweak somewhere, the set is over. I never ‘psych myself up’ in the sense of intentionally devoting all my mental focus to the proposition of completing a lift. Further, my workouts are structured so that I am as weak as possible for the big multijoint movements (eg, bench is the last exercise I do on Chest day), in order to minimize the weight needed for an effective set. Finally, the big movements are always done on the Smith machine so that the ROM can be tightly controlled, and so I can ‘bail’ on a lift if necessary.
I realize my style of lifting would not work for someone into powerlifting and/or strongman competitions. I don’t know how you guys/gals manage to do that. Those of you my age who do PL/Strongman have my utmost respect, and best wishes re a lifetime of injury-free lifting.