We’re all competing
We are lucky to have a top Sports Psychologist with us today named Dr. Jonathan Fader. Now it’s pretty obvious that there’s only an elite few out there who make a living at being a professional athlete that competes with intensity and high performance every day. However, there are many skills and ideas that we “normal” people can take from that group and apply to our own lives to help us thrive and be successful.
In sports psychology, of course the goal is to win, but there’s also winning in life. We all want to be succeeding at something be it our careers, our families or our personal goals. Jonathan says that just because we’re not competing in front of 40,000 fans, we’re still competing. We’re competing certainly against the people in our jobs and we’re really competing with ourselves. He thinks that performance psychology can be one of the various tools that you can use to find greater fulfillment in your life as well as having hopefully better results with what you are trying to accomplish.
Jonathan wants his clients to approach the winning/losing part of the game in a different way. It’s more about “if I got results that I didn’t want, what can I learn from it? What can I learn about my experience? What can I learn about the world?” It’s about changing the mindset and the words we tell ourselves.
We all know how to go down the rabbit hole of negative thinking and sometimes it’s hard to climb out and stop ourselves. Jonathan says he likes to think of having mindfulness about our thought patterns is like trying to fight a rip current in the ocean. You don’t want to swim against it, you want to swim sideways and find the path of least resistance. Then the next step in this process is shifting those thoughts with grace and focus on your breathing. When you do this, grace lets that moment pass and then you don’t end up fighting it…just let it go by you.
And you have probably heard this one before, but gratitude is a gift that you can give yourself, not just others. If something bad happens to you, there’s usually always something that you can find, even when things might seem awful, to be grateful for. If you can shift your thinking and allow that gratitude to move within you, you can go through the failure in a graceful way.
Our minds are like fish tanks
We do what we’re accustomed to do. Jonathan says that routines are essential, be it a high performance athlete or the dad dealing with his children. The more you are able to drill a routine, the more it’s going to come quickly in a moment of adversity. We’ve all heard that practice makes perfect since we were kids. Well, if we practice ahead of time as to how we are going to react to something, you learn that you are actually planning for that contingency.
Mental conditioning in performance psychology doesn’t wait for things to be broken before the problem is addressed. The whole point is to condition you so that you will be ready for the adversity. Jonathan says “people’s minds are like fish tanks, and that if you just wait and you don’t add a PH balance and add the correct water and filter it and all this stuff, it starts to build up gunk.” And that even really healthy, happy people can build up the gunk. We need to be using those tools to keep the gunk out by using tools like meditation, breathing, thought restructuring, building a routine, visualization, running…doing things that help you to clean out that fish tank.
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