From Hole to Whole
Photo: Caite Zeliff dropping into the famed Corbet's Couloir at Jackson Hole
Most of us our compensating for a hole we have inside of ourselves -myself included.
The root cause: "not being enough".
As a result, we may seek validation from others to fill that hole rather than authentically connecting to our self or to others.
We may seek more food for thought, such as always listening to a podcast or surfing social media, in order to satisfy a hungry mind that senses lack and is in a state of "not enough".
The centuries of wisdom from great sages and teachers tell us...
YOU WERE BORN ENOUGH
Moving from hole to whole comes from knowing and loving yourself so deeply that your positive energy spills over to others and the world.
Knowing and loving yourself deeply can be as simple as asking yourself :
"What do I love about myself?"
"What do I love about being human?"
"How do I want to love, grow and contribute?"
(Note: simple does not necessarily mean easy)
Knowing you're enough gives you the courage to LIVE FEARLESSLY.
When you are no longer held by your fears of not being enough, you allow yourself to boldly pursue big dreams.
Yet you're not attached to the outcome.
When your dreams are SELF-FUELED GOALS -something you have complete control over such as having amazing human experiences, learning and growing and contributing positively to the world, that's uplifting. And NO ONE can take that away from you.
This not only puts you on a trajectory toward the extraordinary.
This is being whole.
Until next time...Be Bold. Move Mountains. And Be Happy NOW!
p.s. This blog was inspired by a few things I've been absorbing over the past two months of quarantine (see below). I hope you enjoyed it and that you and your family are well!
Brene Brown's Podcast: Unlocking Us
Vishen Lakhiani's Book: The Code of the Extraordinary Mind
Eckhart Tolle's Book: Stillness Speaks
What if you decided to PLAY BIG?
Have you ever gave a BIG speech or presentation and wished you had someone there to guide you?!
Bronwyn does that!
She helps people give the talk of their lifetime...TED talks, CNN, American Idol, etc.
Bronwyn and I sat down for a podcast interview, where she asked me a ton of questions to empower people to get out of their own way and BE the BEST version of themselves.
The interview was
...and packed full of mindset tips and trick that'll you get you thinking like a champion.
If you haven't listened to any of the podcasts I've been on, I DEFINITELY recommend listening to this one. Click Here.
Or...if you feel like reading rather than listening, then see what Bronwyn has to say about our interview below...
"In today’s episode, I ask Dr. Chris things I’ve always wanted to know, like:
… how important is meditation, really?
… how do you get a runner to push past mile 45 in an ultra-marathon?
… how do you arrest a full-blown freak out happening to a climber who’s facing a terrifying obstacle, high above the ground?
And more importantly, are any of these techniques transferable to us average folks??
I LOVED this conversation, and I learned some new techniques that are pushing me to higher ground.
AND my hope is that listening to this episode will do the same for you.
Click here to listen to my conversation with Dr. Chris Heilman.
We covered a lot of ground in this conversation, but here are the ideas and tidbits that really knocked me out:
CONCENTRATION: Wherever your focus goes, everything follows. Do what you can to block out interruptions, and stay as present as possible. Before you begin something, ask yourself, how might I guard my focus and concentration?
ENJOYMENT: Ask yourself: how can I put a smile on my face right now? “Lose your mind and come to your senses.” Instead of indulging in negative self-talk, look around … what do you see? What do you hear? What can you feel?
2. What would it look like if I decided to play big?
Resources mentioned during our conversation:
What People Are Saying...
"I’d have to say that the part [podcast interview] that stuck out or I related to the most was when you chatted on hitting “Bob” with the “Triple A’s”. I find it extremely beneficial in my personal and professional life…a balance I struggle with often but your techniques are helping me play big in a safe way for me :)" -Katie
"Just tuned in on my commute home. Loved it!" -Jocelyn
"You are a marvel...I have been putting so much of this wisdom to use!!! Thank you for being you!!!" -Brownyn
One Easy Way to Perform Better Today
Today let's talk about a super simple...yet equally powerful way to being a high performer.
One key practice of high performers is getting ideas out of their heads and...
WRITING THEM DOWN!
I know what you're thinking...duh, Dr. Chris.
But great minds ask great questions.
As Micheal Gelb describes in his book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, people like da Vinci have an open, questioning frame of mind...
A childlike sense of wonder and insatiable curiosity that allows them to broaden their universe and create awe-inspiring things.
How do they do it?
BY KEEPING A JOURNAL or NOTEBOOK
Leonardo da Vinci carried a notebook with him at all times so that he could jot down ideas, questions, observations, botany, art impressions, and even jokes.
If he didn't write down those ideas immediately, the odds of remembering them would vanish.
"Busy lives and job responsibilities tend to drive us toward hard conclusions and measurable results, but the exploratory, free flowing, unfinished, nonjudgmental practice of keeping a Da Vincian notebook encourages freedom of thought and expansion of perspective.
In the manner of maestro, don’t worry about the order and logical flow, just record.
Fill your notebook with questions, observations, contemplations, notes, pictures, drawings etc covering as many topics as you can." writes Michael Gelb.
Everywhere I go, I carry either my journal, a paper and pen or my smart phone (I have a note section titled "brainstorms").
I literally have a closet full of notes in my office (see picture above).
Well.... I'm a tiny bit weird... And great teachers know that experience is the source of wisdom.
A quick side note...
...When everything I owned burned in a forest fire where I lived outside of Joshua Tree, CA in 2006, my most precious valuables that burned were not my bike or clothes or climbing gear. It was the poems, notes and memories I wrote. In fact, it took me a couple years to start writing again.
So... you got a good idea?
Of course you do!
How are you capturing them?
If you want to learn more great ideas of high performers, check out this video podcast interview I did last night with Somatic and Performance Psychologist Dr. Richard Oelberger.
And... don't forget to grab something to take notes ;o)
The last time you heard from me was in February, I think?
That newsletter was hard for me to write. And even harder to send to you.
For a high achiever where pushing is glamorized, it was difficult to admit that I needed to stop.
Then, I actually had to follow through with my words and the take steps to slow the eff down.
Feeling utterly depleted and close to burn out, it felt like if I didn't do something NOW I was going to be diseased with a thyroid issue, cancer, or something of the like. That seems a bit dramatic. But that is what my gut was telling me.
Yet, I was hopeful.
I hoped that stopping would make me start again better and stronger than before.
And I was right!
What supported me on this journey was creating a mantra, "Pausing is more powerful than pushing".
When things felt rushed, heavy, or overwhelming, I'd PAUSE instead of defaulting to my regular mode of pushing. And it's made all the difference.
It takes a tremendous courage to do the things that make you uncomfortable.
But that is probably exactly the thing that you need to do!
Since I enjoy adventures, testing my limits, and exploring the depths and limits of who I am, prioritizing down time is uncomfortable. And it has NOT been that easy.
The important thing is that I show up and I do my best.
Some days I push myself too hard exercising my body or working my brain to run a business and I wake up at 2 am and struggle to fall back asleep.
So, I don't have it all figured out.
Slowly, I am learning to appreciate the slower pace. Go slow to go fast.
Scientifically, I remind myself of Newton's 3rd Law of Motion (Action & Reaction).
Newton's 3rd Law states that for each and every action there is an equal and opposite reaction which means that when a force is applied on one object then there is an equal and opposite force that is opposed by another object.
Relating this to my situation, the force of achieving, pushing, and testing my limits needs an equal and opposite force of resting, pausing, and relaxing in order for me to reach a higher level of performance and health.
And I think the same might be true for you too?! (from one high achiever to another...wink, wink)
If you are interested in learning more about how to champion your inner excellence to achieve challenging goals...without destroying your health and well-being in the process...
...then I'd be honored if you joined join me for a FREE 20-minute Consultation. I'd love to help you uncover the holes, hurdles, or hiccups holding you back and give you simple, straight-forward strategies you can use immediately to reach your full potential and enjoy yourself in the process.
Until next time...be bold, move mountains.
This Is Hard For Me
I got something very vulnerable to tell you…
I’ve been struggling with insomnia since I got pregnant over four years ago.
While you’ll often find me smiling and giggling, I have a hard-charging personality that loves to push because stepping outside of my comfort zone is exhilarating!
I find the pushing, grinding, and testing my physical and mental limits fun because I have an opportunity to explore the depths and limits of who I am –discovering strengths and powers I didn’t know I had.
However, I have been pushing myself too hard, for too long.
For example, in my 20s I worked 60-80 hours/week as a university teacher and athletic trainer at the University of Wisconsin -Oshkosh. On top of my regular work week, I volunteered for ski patrol, trained as a search and rescuer, and competed in triathlons.
Now as a 40 year old mother of a toddler, I wrote a book while running a business, processing childhood trauma, and grieving for too many young mothers, fathers, and clients who left this world too soon.
Sadly, my fitness has significantly decreased because I simply don’t have the energy to do it all.
I’m wearing out.
I’m feeling depleted and rundown.
And I’m tired of being conditioned that to BE more means you DO more.
And I don’t think I’m alone.
That’s why I want to create a powerful new paradigm in human performance where we
…Balance winning with well-being.
…Exert effort with enjoyment and ease.
…Demonstrate flexibility rather than force.
Because I believe that grace is more powerful than grinding.
I believe that stopping and slowing down allows us the space to let go of the things holding us back.
I believe that rest is the root of living a life we want.
I believe if we take rest seriously, we are more healthy, well, and wise.
However, I have not been practicing what I believe.
And that’s okay –it happens to the best of us.
At the core, I want to better understand how to be the eye of the hurricane.
I want to be still and calm amidst the challenges we all face in our daily lives –in athletics, academics, work, wellness, and parenting.
But, I’m at a pivotal point where I want to, I need to, stop, slow down, and discover simple, yet profound practices that support mental, emotional, and physical health.
Because I’m burning out.
I absolutely love what I do. But, I’m doing too much.
If you live in busy mode for too long it keeps the sympathetic nervous system active –the part of our autonomic nervous system that manages fight-or-flight.
According to Karen Brody (2017) author of Daring to Rest, this puts stress on our entire nervous system.
Anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.
To reduce this stress, we must take time to activate the opposite part of our autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest) –for balance.
For a quick fix, I teach athletes to exhale longer than they inhale because that activates the parasympathetic nervous system. But, when you’ve been in overdrive for too long this breathing technique is like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound.
It’s time for me to address the gaping wound, be brutally honest with myself, and be well-rested so that I can operate from my full power.
I also think that in the world of sports with hard-charging athletes and coaches, this is a worthy conversation to initiate.
If we want to sustain achieving amazing feats of greatness, then we need to balance that with rest.
If we live in a culture that is obsessed with performance and productivity, then we need to balance that with rest.
If we live in a world that is over-heating –including ourselves, then we need to balance that with rest.
Rest is giving yourself non-active time to allow your mind and body the opportunity to restore and rejuvenate.
Rest means you are doing NOTHING!
Rest means quietly watching a sunset, sitting in a chair observing the beauty around you, or taking a bath…with bubbles!
Rest means taking a time-out.
Rest means allowing your body to relax and your thoughts to slow down.
I hear so many people, including myself, that are tired of feeling frazzled and fatigued because doing it all is bullshit.
Well, I’m courageously stepping away from my business and taking a break from working every day.
This is hard for me! It’s easier to push than pause. It’s easier to be strong than to be still.
But, I’m being pulled to pause and be still.
And I want to honor that visceral instinct in the bottom of my gut.
I want to find a powerful place that leads me to feeling rested, energized, and empowered...to do what is important to me…to make a meaningful impact…to feel unstoppable again...and to share my findings with you!
Because stopping makes us start again better and stronger the next time.
If this at all resonates with you, please send me an email. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic…even if you think I’m acting like a baby and need to suck-it-up, buttercup.
Until next time…I dare you to rest.
3 Steps to Send It
My home ski resort, Grand Targhee, opened a couple months ago and what happened startled me.
Giggling with glee.
And soaring into the unknown.
Here’s what happened…
My day of skiing started out in total amazement.
Somehow I was lucky enough to be the first chair of the season on the Sacajawea chairlift skiing fresh, untouched, and bottomless powder (120” snowfall, 60” base)!
After giggling in glee and being covered in soft, white frosting for over an hour, I stopped in the ski patrol shack to thank them for working sooo hard to get the mountain open. I ski patrolled at this ski resort so I knew what a pain-in-the-ass it was to get the mountain open.
One of the patrollers said they were going to open the gates to Das Boat, a north facing slope with a cliff band to ski over or slide through –if you chose to partake.
Das Boat is opening for the first time this season and ski patrol is inviting me to be the first to ski it…HELL YEAH!
The gate opened!
I slide through, smiling.
My line of choice was to ski Sven’s Rock.
I hadn’t skied Sven’s Rock since 2007.
In 2007, I was ski patrolling and there was a report that a male snowboarder hucked off a rock and was hurt.
I was the first ski patroller to respond to the scene.
I decided to ski to Sven’s Rock to look for the injured party.
Surprisingly, I noticed my roommate...she was trying to soothe our injured friend under the rock.
With my heart pounding, I hopped over Sven's Rock and safely skied to my injured friend.
After my medical assessment, I backboarded him and skied him out…he broke his back.
Fast forward a decade...
I'm approaching Sven’s rock for the first time in 10 years.
I start to notice old feelings emerge.
My heart is racing.
My breath is quick and shallow
And the butterflies in my stomach storm around like a swarm of bees.
I was nervous.
I was overtaken with anxiety -bombarded with the fear of getting hurt if I hucked over Sven's Rock.
I was scared, but I overcame my fear.
First, I told myself…
"You know how to do this. You are a sport psychologist.”
(p.s. speaking in 3rd person helps….you’re dooping your brain into thinking it’s someone else so you don’t take yourself so seriously)
Second, I acknowledged my nerves...
“It’s normal to be nervous in this situation.”
Third, I did a risk assessment...
Lastly, I did a quick evaluation to prime my mind for flow before I soared into the unknown.
3 STEPS TO SEND IT: Priming Your Mind for Flow
I begin to repeat the mantra in my head...“Breathe. Move. Breathe. Move.”
My skis start moving.
My breathing is deep and rhythmic.
I see my line.
I instinctively hop over the rock.
I effortlessly dropped into deep, glorious powder.
This is awesome!
No matter what sport you’re in that feeling of transitioning from fear to flow is the same.
The moment before takeoff is exhilarating.
And it never gets old.
If you’re looking for ways to fight your fears and win.
If you’re looking to fill your toolbox so you are better equipped to achieve amazing feats of mental and physical performance.
If you’re looking for expert advice and actionable steps to be the strongest, healthiest version of yourself...in sports, wellness, or all walks of life.
Then, I invite you to invest in your most powerful asset…your mind.
I can’t think of a better way to spend your hard earned money than in mastering your mindset and strengthening it’s capabilities for success.
If you've read this far, then it's likely that this is something you’ve been thinking about.
There is no better time than NOW to take the plunge and start your journey to greatness.
I promise that I will put forth as much as you do into getting you better.
Just email me for a FREE 20-minute consultation!
Elevate Your Excellence: The Mindset and Methods That Make Champions is the sport psychology book I've been diligently writing for a year and half. It is nearing it’s final stages and about ready to go to print!
I’m so proud of the book I’ve created.
But it has come at a price.
You see, pursing a challenging goal takes over your life.
When you are going hard and giving 100% to something you care about, it’s hard to be balanced.
Whether you are writing a book or striving to make it to the championship game, we become out-of-balanced –like an off kilter wash machine, because every ounce of energy goes into brainstorming, creating, experimenting, training, failing, making mistakes, improving, and mastering.
That means we don’t have much leftover energy and attention to give to other things that are important to us.
The process of writing a book gave me the opportunity to create something that I believe can impact the lives of those who are in the pursuit of excellence –whether that be in sport, exercise, business, or life.
But, I have to be HONEST
…it cost me my motivation to exercise
…it cost me my enthusiasm to do fun, fulfilling things with my husband and 3 year old
…it cost me my desire to hang out with friends
…it cost me my sleep –waking up at 2am with my mind churning
…it cost me my ability to kick back and relax
I’ve come to realize that anything worth fighting for is certainly going to throw you off balance.
And being unbalanced is okay.
In fact, it is part of life –despite what we are conditioned to believe.
An unbalanced life is merely a season.*
Let’s be real…it can’t ALWAYS be summer and sunny outside.
As the season shifts to autumn, it’s natural the weather is changing, the temperature is crisp, and the leaves turn into brilliant orange, red, and yellow.
Just like the seasons, different areas of our life,–whether that be physical, mental, vocational, emotional, social, are ever changing and always shifting.
Although I know the seasons change, I don’t particularly like that so much of my energy went into writing a book. Because I chose to prioritize the book over self-care, I am frumpy and not fit from my lack of exercise and sometimes I feel like a piss-poor mother/wife for not spending enough time with my family.
But, I try not to sweat it.
Because this is sometimes how our biggest dreams and boldest goals get accomplished.
I also remind myself that this is the season I am in and the price I paid to pour my heart and soul into something I love.
And you know what?!
The seasons will shift again.
Not too far from now the book will be in print and my focus will shift to fitness, family, and friends.
In the meantime, I am accepting and appreciating this season for what it is –an opportunity
…to face my fears of not feeling worthy to write a sport psychology book,
…to test the depths and limits of who I am,
…and to discover new strengths I didn’t know I had.
Like the annual growth rings on a tree, it was a season of tremendous progress and development. And for that I am thankful.
As Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, describes my sentiments for the will to excel, commitment to expand, and desire to be a champion:
“…I firmly believe that any man’s finest hours—his greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear—is that moment when he has worked his heart out in good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle—victorious.”
I also know that staying with this type of intensity is not sustainable.
Much like periodization (systematic physical training in sports), when we stress the mind and then let it recover we are better able to grow, find new ideas, and have breakthroughs.
As the trees begin to shed their leaves, I’m also looking forward to taking a break from a great growing season and resting and reflecting next week (I attempt to take a week of leisure at every season change, see The Roman's Secret to Optimal Performance).
My hope of this blog post is that through my struggles and reflections you are better able to enjoy the current season of your sport, of your fitness, of your personal development, of your career, of your family, etc., etc., etc.
And honor where you’re at right now!
Before too long the seasons will change again.
CLICK HERE to preview the book ELEVATE YOUR EXCELLENCE.
*Inspired by www.shethrivesblog.com
Can Sports Change the World?
In a time of so much division, I believe sports are a powerful and positive force to bring people together.
Sport creates moments that get people through their greatest challenges in life as well as support them through the best of times.
Sport does this by allowing us to care and connect to a like-minded group.
It’s a family that share moments of:
…dreams & depression
…happiness & healing
…fun & fears
…triumphs & tears.
That’s because those who participate in your sport are your family –connecting, playing, learning, bonding, fighting, loving, ranting, and raving.
It’s a place to be raw, real, & resilient through the mental and emotional fluctuations of sports and life.
On a broader scale, we don’t even have to speak the same language to play sports with each other. Each sport has it’s own set of rules that every participant understands –despite their race, religion, sex, or nationality.
In fact, there is no other event in the world that brings more people together than the Olympics. The great thing about the Olympics is that each of us experiences a deeper connection that goes beyond sports. And that is a beautiful thing.
This deeper connection in sport allows our spirits to soar.
It’s a place we are able to get lost in the moment –letting go off suffering, sadness, & success.
Just moments of being in the now.
It’s a place to release the heaviness and relish in utter elation.
It’s experiencing a sense of awe.
A sense of bliss.
For me, it’s pretty simple.
Sport fills me up.
It strengthens my mind and body, which makes me want to be a better person.
And that, my friend, is how we change the world.
Rumi captures the essence of this…
“Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
I am so grateful that my sports give me a rich opportunity to relax into my true nature, discover my pure potential and that of others, and share these deep experiences with people from all walks of life to make the world a better place.
Even Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and legendary activist most notable for his efforts to dismantle South Africa’s institutionalized racism, ranks sport high on the list to make powerful, transformative changes.
At the 1995 Rugby World Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa, Mandela convinced a divided nation of blacks and whites to unify and root for their home team, the Springboks –which only had one nonwhite player. With a crowd almost completely white, Mandela went onto the field wearing a Springboks jersey. The crowd was silent. Then, began chanting “Nelson! Nelson! Nelson!” The South African Springboks went on to win the game (Carlin, 2009).
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”
What do you think?
Has your sport been a positive and powerful force in changing yourself and the world?
If so, how? I’d love to hear about it!
Send me your brain dump by emailing me.
Psychology of Injury
The joy of testing your limits, connecting with like-minded people, and doing what you love is suddenly stripped away. During these uncertain times, it’s easy to get sucked into the pain cave.
But, is there a better way?
Can you take advantage of using mental training to aid in your recovery?
Joel Hatch, co-founder of Trail Manners a podcast series for trail runners, contacted me for an interview on just that. Joel has an injured friend who wants to know the optimal way to psychologically deal with an injury and what tools can be acquired during the recovery process.
I was psyched for the interview as this topic is close to my heart.
Because of my own athletic injuries in high school, my chosen career path was athletic training. For several years I practiced as a certified an athletic trainer for youth, collegiate, and Olympic athletes.
What I came to realize is that I not only helped athletes heal their injuries through physical rehab but more importantly I helped athletes recover from the mental misery of enduring an injury so that they could confidently return to play, which is one of reasons I quit my athletic training career, pursued a sport psychology doctorate degree, and started my business Mindset.
In the podcast interview, you’ll learn:
For a sneak peek into the interview, Go F.A.R. stands for Feel. Accept. Recover.
Feel: Honor the present. Injuries can sometimes be traumatic. Rather than deny your emotions and let them build until you burst, allow yourself to feel into hurt, anger, disappointment, and frustration (this is also true for a crappy training day or competition). Acknowledge the emptiness, despair, or confusion, but have a lightness on your face. As the adage goes, “This too shall pass”.
Accept: Pain is our resistance. Holding onto tension wastes precious energy. You can waste energy fighting against not wanting to be injured or you can accept your current situation and find ways to make the hardship an opportunity to make you stronger. Can you embrace the change versus fight against it?
Recover: I know how hard it can be to feel and accept (I'm better at swallowing my emotions than letting the surface), but once you’ve made these adjustments you’re in a better head space for a speedy recovery. For example, have you ever went into a training session and felt like crap? Did you show up anyway and found a way to move on…maybe even have a superb training session? You are practicing resilience. And you can drum up these resources, and even refine them, during the injury recovery process so that you are mentally stronger and more confident for your return to sport.
For more mental training tips, Click Here to listen to the 53-minute interview.
Why Mental Toughness is Bull Sh*t
A couple weeks ago, 17 steel poles broke near Teton Village in a winter storm.
Jackson Hole was closed for days.
The town declared a state of emergency...there was no way in and no way out.
This is the way of nature...and a great metaphor for your mental game and performance.
As martial artist and actor Bruce Lee puts it,
"The stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending in the wind."
And that's why I dislike the term mental toughness.
Mental toughness refers to being strong, hard and rigid.
This so called 'toughness' is actually quite fragile because it's breakable...with enough force you'll snap.
I believe mental toughness is a veneer term
...it's a cover to describe being supple, flexible and malleable.
But no one wants to talk about the softer side of mental toughness...maybe in fear of being perceived as weak?
Strength comes from letting go of being stiff and stuffy.
...the tougher and harder you are, the more defensive, insecure and isolated you become.
...the more open and honest you are, the more secure, fearless and better you become.
STRENGTH = SURRENDERING + SOFTENING
Stop trying to be mentally tough.
Start being mentally flexible.
By not being blinded by what you think will bring you happiness and high performance -like more accomplishments, winning, status, or a rock-hard body.
Rather than repeating the pleasures you already know, open up to the unknown.
It is here where we explore an endless source of possibilities and find our untapped potential.
...and isn't this what we all want?
...to live to our full potential!
An athlete of mine recently shared with me a story of Josh Waitzkin, chess and martial arts champion. In an one-hour interview at Google, Josh says what he's learned from years of studying champions is that those who are the most successful are expressing themselves most purely through their discipline.
Mentally flexibility, then, is giving yourself permission to unravel and understand your unique potential.
It's not about glossing over the losses and becoming more callused and mentally tough. Rather, as Josh puts it, it's the losses that define you.
It's giving yourself the time and space to learn how to be honest with yourself and to accept whatever may be happening on the surface.
Before moving on with your day, pause.
And remember to be flexible
...embracing the opportunity to grow when meeting a new challenge
...BENDING WITH THE WIND
...and excelling in the deepest and most profound ways.
In loving memory of Dawn Trent Banks
Winning the Mind Game
The mind game consists of the tricks your mind plays on you
The most important thing I've learned as sports psychology coach is that:
Any trick of the mind
can be defeated by
becoming aware of the trick.
AWARENESS = POWER
The AAA Approach to Awareness
ACKNOWLEDGE your reaction to the situation.
When you face a challenge, mistake or setback, tell yourself:
"This is me reacting to the situation, the situation is a blank experience."
The situation has no meaning until you personalize it.
You can acknowledge what’s going on in the situation by
LABELING your experience as X, such as frustration, confusion or not being good enough, and say to yourself:
When you accept without judgment, what happens?
...You become relaxed, centered and gain an open perspective.
The more centered and accepting we are,
the more positive energy we bring to the situation,
which eases the heaviness of a difficult moment
and boosts our performance.
After saying, "I am experiencing X", immediately say:
Next, take ACTION.
In every moment, we have a choice.
The choice to embrace our power or to give it up.
There is no BETTER WAY to
develop your awareness and
harness your power than to
redirect your attention to a better outcome for yourself in any situation.
Ultimately, the choice in how you react is YOURS.
...No one can carry your burden for you.
How do you want to move forward?
***THIS IS HOW WE WIN THE MIND GAME***
When you ACKNOWLEDGE and ACCEPT where you’re at and
CHOOSE an ACTION of where you want your story to go
...you are centered and engaged.
You are no longer wasting time
because you are experiencing being here
–nothing more –nothing less.
From this CENTERED PLACE
you’re positioned to
use your skills and strengths to the utmost
–as an athlete, parent or passionate professional.
And the POWER of PERFORMANCE is born.
Next time you’re mind tries to play tricks on you like,
"I'm not strong enough to do this" or
"My achievements aren't as good as others,"
And WIN the mind game with 3 Short Statements...
1. I am experiencing X.
2. It’s okay to experience X.
3. I choose to ___________.
If you're looking for more tips, tools or tricks to win the mind game, I invite you share it with me in the comments below. I'd love to hear your story.
Come into the mountains, my dear friend
Leave society and take no one with you
But your true self
Get close to nature
Your everyday games will become insignificant
I wrote this quote on my white board ten years ago when I started my PhD and never erased it.
Today it stills lives on my white board and reminds me of what’s important -health, friends and family, and quality of life.
Yet, driven by my ambition I continually outpace my daily intake of energy.
My personality is more like the fast hare instead of the slow and steady turtle.
…I often dip into my energy reserves and become depleted.
I find that too much ambition and activity robs us of time to contemplate, relax, and enjoy every good thing in life.
As Kirpal Singh, 20th century Indian Saint, put it:
“Ambition is the thief of the spirit”
But, ambition is in my blood…and in the blood of the athletes I work with.
We love to run, push, and overachieve.
Ambition, while leading to some positive accomplishments, can also lead to stress, poor health, and bad decisions.
How do we balance our ambitious drive?
Over the past few years, at each seasonal change I step away from my desk to rejuvenate.
The autumn equinox is tomorrow so…
I’m going into the mountains, my dear friends.
And taking some time to balance my perspective and priorities.
This may seem unorthodox.
But, recently I learned that the great Roman society -known for their advances in architect, medicine, and science, were able to achieve so much because they took LEISURE time.
Leisure, known to the Romans as otium, wasn’t a time for selfish pleasure. It was time devoted to writing, reading, meditating, sharing thoughts and ideas, exercising, playing, and appreciating nature.
Balancing ambition with leisure was a central tenet to the Romans success.
Achievement requires rejuvenation.
It’s my belief that a natural time to rejuvenate is by the rhythm of the seasons.
Every three months during the equinoxes and solstices, I take a break from writing, checking emails, and networking so that I can “vacate et videte”. According to the Romans, “vacate et videte" means to be still and be seen.
And I invite you to do the same.
Balance Your Ambition by finding a time do an activity that allows you to be fully present -free of time, responsibilities, and burdens.
Schedule an hour or a day next week to give yourself permission to read, play, contemplate, or appreciate nature…like the Romans did. I promise -you won't regret it.
Sometimes in sports things go wrong.
Sometimes it’s because we’ve lost sight of what’s important to us.
Sometimes it’s because we fear failure.
However it happens, there’s a certain amount of mental misery that can occur. It can leave us feeling confused, hopeless and downright pissed off.
The questions we ask ourselves in these moments shapes everything.
Too many times I’ve seen athletes, including myself, stew on questions like, “WTF happened?” or “What’s wrong with me?” Or “How can I fix this?”
Rather than sliding down the slippery slope of negativity, I suggest taking a different approach.
Ask yourself: How is this perfect?
If things have gone wrong...
there’s a good chance that there’s something you didn’t see.
Maybe it was something in yourself …like losing focus because your mind was dwelling on a mistake you made a minute ago.
Maybe it was something in the environment …like a distraction from the opposing team or bad weather conditions.
When things go wrong, it’s uncomfortable. It hurts. And sometimes we suffer. We instinctively put our blinders on and try to move through it as fast as possible.
But before breaking into a problem-solving sprint, it’s usually a good idea to slow down, take off your blinders and open yourself to different possibilities.
It’s worth setting some time to ponder on these sticky situations because it brings about greater self-awareness.
With awareness comes transformation, freedom and a higher level of performance.
EXERCISE: How is this perfect?
Set aside 5 minutes with a pen and paper to better understand how your situation is perfect.
This question is NOT interested in making you feel shame or faulting anybody.
This question IS interested in helping you to see what you haven’t seen before. Look at your situation and ask “How is this perfect?”
Try it now.
(It’s important, I’ll wait…)
Now, let me ask you:
-->Did you learn something new?
-->How likely will you make the same mistake again?
-->Will you be a better player or person the next time this situation comes up?
Pretty powerful, right?
Next time when something goes wrong in sports, or in life, remember to take some time to slow down, take off your blinders and reflect on these 4 words: How is this PERFECT?
Being a champion is a lifestyle…not a part-time job.
You got to have
…a twinkle in your eye
…an ambition in your heart
…and discipline in your teeth to be focused at being the best you can be.
It’s about becoming the best you can be and, thus, becoming a champion in sports and all walks of your life.
That's why I believe that sport is played with the body, but won in the mind.
As a result, I get really excited to share with you the tools and habits to be who you are, to never doubt your ability and to excel in your desired dreams.
To get started, I believe that understanding your motivation is the foundation for excellence. To jump start your motivation, take a moment and answer the following questions:
If you look at your answers there are a variety of internal and external reasons of why you enjoy your sport. Those who excel at the highest level, athletes like Shaun White, Carli Llyod and Micheal Phelps, speak to the important role that fun, joy and passion plays in freeing them to excel.
As you review your answers, remember to connect to the bigger reasons of why you do what you do. These deep, internal motives allows us to have more control and confidence in our athletic, and life, pursuits. When we have control and confidence, we begin to see all the choices that lead to the path of performance and personal excellence.
Despite being a pretty optimistic person (nickname Bubbles), I tend to be hard on myself. Mostly, I struggle with being an overachiever. I worry about doing my best, over think minute details and try to be excellent at EVERYTHING.
If you’re anything like me, this pursuit of excellence can be exhausting.
That’s why I WORK HARD at...
And being mentally flexible.
By NOT being HAPPY 24-7.
Sure. Happiness can make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But, I think the majority of people don’t talk about the DARKER SIDE of emotions because expressing fear, anxiety and disappointment OPENS you up to feeling vulnerable. It exposes your weaknesses (if there is such a thing).
Rather than adopting my typical SUCK-IT-UP mentality, INTERNALIZING my fears and PUSHING forward, I recently started scheduling a time to...
And ALLOW myself to feel my raw and often times confusing emotions.
Carrying unneeded negativity inside of you is incredibly draining.
It takes up precious energy (which is a finite resources…when you run out, you run out) that could be better spent on things you really enjoy –like running, racing or reaching your peak potential.
Research (Csikszentmihalyhi, 1990; Thelwell & Greenless, 2006) shows that people who learn to manage their inner experiences feel
…and at the peak of their abilities.
Living and performing your best, then, are something YOU can make happen.
Well, you CAN'T BE YOUR BEST until you let go of your shit. Honestly. You can try to suppress your fears, doubts and frustrations, but you can’t avoid it forever. Trust me, I tried for several years. What I learned is that I can learn all the positive skills in the world, but it wasn't until I was brave enough to explore why I was afraid of the dark that I really started to excel.
You got to understand what’s holding you back and release it.
This is peak performance.
This is fully experiencing health and happiness.
FACE YOUR FEELINGS EXERCISE:
Grab a pen and paper. Set a timer for 1- to 15-minutes and feel into your fears and frustrations. Listen to the silly, self-sabotaging voices in your head. Then, give it a voice by writing it down. Free form. No holding back. Try starting your statements with a feeling (mad, sad, etc). You might be surprised how peaceful you feel when you’re done.
Here’s how I write my statements:
We often think that holding back and holding it all in makes us STRONGER. But learning how to acknowledge and let go of negative emotions as they arise FREES us from any perceived obstacles or struggles that are in our way (fear of not performing up to our expectations, afraid of what people think of us and not being accepted).
With practice, you begin to see that undesirable thinking and feeling is NOT BAD. It’s not a weakness. It doesn’t characterize who you are. It just is.
Plus, if you didn’t feel the ups and downs of your thoughts and feelings, then sports –and life would be pretty damn boring.
As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyhi (1990) said in his book Flow,
““The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something we make happen.”
Let’s make it happen!
ALLOW yourself to let go of all the layers that KEEP YOU from living and performing your best by acknowledging and accepting your thoughts and feelings.
Then, share your experience with me. Take the courageous plunge and make a comment below or send me an email and tell me all about it. I look forward to hearing from you!