Let’s not beat around the bush because no one transforms and becomes more mentally strong by doing that.
It’s pretty straight forward, you will not become an expert in anything that you desire by simply reading a book, listening to a podcast or watching a show on television.
Now these things may help you learn, adopt new philosophies, create motivation and possibly even allow for you to better identify where you need to begin to become an expert but you have to be the one to take action.
Take CrossFit athletes for example. They do not become competitors solely by reading about their sport. They do not reach the podium by watching other athletes in the gym take action.
They do not get stronger, faster and become equipped with the ability to be ready for the unknown by sitting back and letting life pass them by. What they do is take action and practice.
They accumulate thousands of reps, of doing things that they know they need to do vs. what they want to do.
Most importantly, and something I really want you to remember and not forget, is that the repetitions they are doing come in a variety of forms; it is not just limited to doing repetitions that are tangible such as back squatting, rope climbing, running, olympic lifting and so on.
These athletes of course do those tangible things but then they also do more. They practice what it means to be more resilient in and out of the gym.
They practice living and breathing with more confidence. They focus on putting forth the necessary amount of effort and energy into their non-negotiables that allow for them to become an expert. These non-negotiables can be things such as but not limited too:
Mental Health Strategies
Decreasing / Managing Stress
Back to being straight forward and not beating around the bush, the purpose of the paragraphs above are to allow for you to begin to ask yourself questions such as:
- What can I do today, even if it is just one more rep than yesterday, that will help me reach my goals?
- Where in my life do I NEED (not want) more repetitions in order to be 1% better today than I was yesterday?
The reason I even began typing out this blog was because of two occurrences that took place on Tuesday January 21, 2020. Illinois’ Alan Griffin was ejected after stepping on a Purdue player’s chest and then there was a bench clearing brawl at the end of the Kansas vs. Kansas State game.
As a former collegiate basketball player, I found myself watching with my own two eyes, athletes and complete organizations absolutely insulting the beautiful game that is; ten people on the court, strategically showcasing through practice how to gain leverage and play together as a unit in order to score 1,2,3 or 4 points.
I found myself becoming very sad, angry and completely at a loss for words as I watched one young man stomp on an opponent’s chest and then two teams go to battle on the court in front of thousands in the stands and then thousands more tuning in via television.
I began thinking, “How many repetitions of anger, lack of confidence, guilt, resentment, jealousy, cockiness, hopelessness and so on have these individuals taken in their lives to get them to this point, where they are not only representing their school and themselves poorly but they are hurting the game and ultimately harming the trajectory of their life because of the action they chose to take due to one reaction?”
The point of all of this is, we are first our individual self and then we are the athlete we are choosing to become. We have to focus on the internal reps, the reps that create mental strength, the reps that create confidence, the reps that allow for us to respond rather than react.
These are the reps that need to be sought after before we take action and rep out our bench press, clean and jerk, free throw, 5k time and so on.
Never in any sport should someone get stomped on or have a chair thrown at their face with an entire team headed your way to do even more harm. This is not welcome anywhere, especially in sports.
So what can you do? What reps can you be doing in order to assure that you better respond to adversity instead of reacting to your emotions?
For starters, hiring a coach that focuses on mental performance is a great way to take action.
Not every athletic coach and even organization has the time, energy, or experience to focus on each individual athlete’s mental health.
Bringing someone into your organization whose sole focus is mental performance can allow for you, your athletes and your organization as whole to flourish and transform in more ways than one.
Second, there are many techniques that can be practiced in order for someone to be able to essentially “walk it off” instead of stomping or throwing.
Now I could sit here and talk about a variety of techniques for hours but I will keep the list short. Point is, just know there are many more ways than what is below.
- Take Deep Breaths
- Here is a fact: frustration, anger, jealousy, resentment, holding grudges and so on can cause physical reactions within the body. Your heart rate will speed up, you might begin to sweat… a lot, your breathing will escalate, the amount of thoughts in your mind will increase and circulate making it hard to focus on what is actually taking vs. what you believe in taking place. When you take slow deep breaths this will help you relax your muscles and decrease your physiological response which will help decrease your emotional reactivity.
- Distract Yourself
- Of course I am not here telling you to completely forget about what is going on however, if you are in a situation when you are incredibly overly emotional, distracting yourself could be very helpful. Go to the gym, go for a walk, read a book, listen to a podcast, cook up an amazing meal and so on. These actions more times than not will give you space to calm down and get your mind off of what is bothering you so you can begin to think more rationally.
- In the scenarios above, distracting yourself could have looked like immediately walking to the other end of the court or heading over to a teammate or coach to talk about how you are feeling.
- Excuse yourself from the situation
- This one is typically very challenging for people but keep in mind that the more emotional you feel, the less rational you will think. When you begin to feel anger rising and you begin sweating, shaking, crying for example, simply remove yourself from the current situation before you act on emotion. Walk away or communicate that you simply do not want to talk about right now.
- It is pretty obvious that the two scenarios I spoke about, would not allow for the athletes in discussion to excuse themselves from the situation. However, if you are someone who recognizes that you typically get angry very quickly and react, practice removing yourself from a situation so you are better able to do so and “walk it off” when you need to most. Practice makes progress!
- I always say that a pen and piece of paper is your best friend. This one is pretty straight forward. If you are beginning to feel overwhelmed with emotion, take it as an opportunity to get it all out of your system and get it out on paper so it is no longer taking up space and energy in your body!
- Recognize Your Choices
- Most importantly, remind yourself daily that you have a choice in every single thing that you do, think and feel. Write this out on a piece of paper and keep it at your home, in your office and even in your car. Put it in your locker, in your gym bag and so forth and remember that you are in control and you always have a choice!
Remember, it doesn’t matter if it is in your relationship, at the gym, on the olympic weightlifting platform, at work or on the basketball court, reps are king and the more reps you put into becoming more mentally strong, the better you will be able to respond calmly rather than reacting on emotion.
If you are interested in putting in reps on your mindset email Mental Performance Coach Lauren Tait directly at firstname.lastname@example.org