Using your brain to win at life
Everyone agrees that the mind has power, the power that can be the difference between winning or losing, success or failure, life or death. Our thoughts have life in ways we overestimate, using them in the wrong way is often the cause of many mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and many phobias. But what we forget is that the same thing that makes a problem also gives the solution. Just like we are using our mind in a way that is harmful to our mental and physical health, it is the same mind that can cure and solve those problems. Our mind is a tool that we can use in many different ways. We condition it to think in certain patterns that as time goes on becomes accustomed to act in mannerisms you decide. Negative thoughts and conditioning will result in negative outcomes which are created by you because of your mindset. Anxiety, for example, is often caused by our way of thinking, we make up scenarios worrying about the future that harm our emotional and mental health all because we aren’t thinking properly. We know that thoughts lead to feelings ending in action. We can choose to pay attention to our negative thoughts or ignore them. As we become more conscious of our thoughts we are able to be in control of what thoughts we think and begin to condition our minds the way we want it to think. Essentially it's all about conditioning which is why I use the word so much. It doesn’t happen by itself, were not born thinking a certain way. It needs to be learned and practiced until the consistency wins. The mind listens to what you tell it to do, it's like a see-saw the more weight there is on one side that's the side that tips. The way to flip sides is to slowly move weight from one side to the other. Parenthetically, when it comes to thinking, when negative thoughts come up we need to convert them to positive ones which over time we start to think the way we’ve been conditioning ourselves to.
Being a mental performance coach, I often see patterns with my clients that when they come with an issue, the solution is very obvious and it has to do with this subject. When performing, its imperative that the mind is being attended to in the right ways in order to allow your body to perform at its best. The things you think about before and during a performance has a direct effect on the performance. For example, let's take two athletes; one is thinking about how nervous they are and what happens if they don’t perform the way everyone is expecting them to. The second athlete reframes the nervousness as excitement and uses deep breathing to stay calm and composed and repeatedly says "I trust my skills and I’m just going to go and allow my body to perform the way it knows how". It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to take a side as to who will perform better. The first athlete's thoughts before the performance are doing more damage than the second athlete's mental techniques are helping.
I use a very simple tool that identifies between 4 mental blocks in order to allow a performer to get over it immediately. I use an acronym called “GAIL”.
The "G" stands for Gremlin. It's the voice inside of our head that gives us excuses as to why we can't do something. Usually, it has a voice of inadequacy such as “you’re not good enough, smart enough, skilled enough, big enough.” When this voice comes up, our body becomes capsized by these thoughts stunting our performance. Anytime we have doubt, this voice comes up to rear its ugly head and remind us why we cant do it.
The "A" stands for an assumption. We make assumptions about the future based on past experiences. We start to impose the past on to the future since something happened before, we believe it's likely to happen again. The example I use in athletics is, an athlete misses multiple shots he begins to believe that the next shot will be missed because he missed the last few. He makes it more likely to miss that next shot because of his thought process because what we think is what becomes.
The “I” stands for interpretation. We fill holes in our understanding of scenarios in order to try to understand It better. When things happen to us and we don’t get filled in on the explanation we come up with interpretations to make us feel better (so we think) but in reality, it's just making us focus on the wrong things once again affecting our performance. How many times did someone not text you back or not get back to you when you expected? You start coming up with ideas as to why they haven’t gotten back to you or what could have gone wrong, then you find out they just didn’t have their phone or were in a meeting. You tried to make sense of your own doubts.
Lastly, the “L” stands for limiting beliefs. We limit our belief in ourselves because no one has ever done the thing that we aspire or imagine doing. We limit possibilities because we don't truly believe in ourselves. Roger Bannister famous for running the first sub 4-minute mile didn’t allow the worlds view of running control his body or running limits. He said just because no one did it doesn’t mean it's not possible. In the very month that Bannister broke the record dozens more broke his own record.
We can't allow everyone else's understanding of the world and shallow opinions limit our abilities mentally or physically, whether you're an athlete, business owner or striving to hit personal goals, believe in yourself and give yourself permission to become the greatest you!