From darkness to light

It’s the end of the year, winter solstice has passed. We are moving from darkness to light.

This period of time for me is always a reflective one.

As I look back on this year in my life I see a lot of ups and downs. Challenges, lessons learned and success too. So it is on this journey of life.

My challenges this year on a personal level were great. Through them I grew by leaps and bounds. I did the work I needed to do on me and continue to do so. The silver lining is growth. I may not always see it but I can tell in the way I approach situations and respond differently.

I’ve learned that feelings are just that: feelings. I don’t have to lose myself in them. I can feel the feeling and let it go. I’m learning to honor myself and where I’m at. I’m going to be alright no matter what happens. I’ve got this. I trust myself.

As someone who grew up in a high functioning and performing family I’m learning to be comfortable with where I’m at because I know I am right where I am meant to be. It can be challenging at times but the gap between where I am and what I want needs to be manageable. Baby steps.

I’m learning to be mindful of the committee in my head. I teach positive psychology and when I take a moment to notice what’s going on in there it can be alarming at times. I go back to breath. I breathe and slow things down. Breath is connected to thought, thought is connected to feeling and feeling is connected to action. Awareness, acceptance and action. That’s the key to positive change for me.

What you focus on expands. I’m reminding myself that I need to make sure I am focusing on the positive. Life is easier then. Thoughts become things, choose the good ones.

I’m learning to be mindful and to stay in the present. How often am I in the past or flying forward into the future? A lot. Present. Moment by moment, breath by breath. Live and let live. Enjoy this life. Live it fully. Soak in its juices. Be.

I tend to be fairly serious by nature. A thinker. Learning to lighten up, laugh and have fun and surround myself with positive people helps. A lot.

I’m learning to go with the flow. That’s a big one. Control has been a big part of my family of origin. Planning, taking action and moving forward. I know how to do that. Going with the flow is whole other kettle of fish. Again it comes back to breathing, relaxing and trusting that I am right where I need to be even though I may think otherwise.

Thanks for the fruitful year Universe. It’s been challenging at times, however, the growth has been extraordinary. There are many blessings to be grateful for.

I’m reflecting on what my word for 2017 will be. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Performance anxiety

Performance anxiety is a beast my clients present with often.

They have no problem showing up with their A game in practice but when it comes time to make it count on race day they fall flat.

It’s fair to say they psych themselves out.

I was giving a session on the weekend and one of the coaches told me about one of the racers going through major performance anxiety last year. The poor kid couldn’t eat for days before a race and was a mess. Needless to say he couldn’t pull it together on race day.

He’s made quite the turnaround this season and is on the podium at just about every race.

Some mental preparation can help when performance anxiety strikes.

Here are three mental strategies to help you get back to your A game:

Breathing. Sounds odd because it’s something we naturally do without thinking about it. The difference is now I want you to think about it. Practice belly breaths. Send your breath past your lungs to your belly. Feel your belly go out when you inhale and come in when you exhale. Try and extend the breath for as long as you can. Play with it and see where it takes you. Guaranteed you will feel more calm and relaxed because of it.

Imagery. I’ve spoken about it here before. It’s such a powerful tool and it has such an impact on performance. Seeing yourself going through the motions of your athletic performance has far reaching benefits. The ski coaches I work with have taken to timing their ski racers to see how long it takes them to run the course through their minds. They are trying to get them to be mindful of time. You want your imagery in this instance to take as much time as it would to run the course.

Feelings. Think about how you want to feel when you’re engaged in your best performances. If you’re a ski racer I’m willing to bet fast is one of them. Once you’ve identified some feelings integrate them into your imagery. Really feel the feeling with every fiber of your being as you’re engaged in your imagery. Run your imagery with how you want to feel and see where it takes you.

Use these tools. Practice them and with time they will become second nature.

These tools are just as useful in sport as they are in life. Whether it be at school or on the job. A little positive imagery before a test or presentation can go a long way to a better outcome.

Believe in yourself

Believe in yourself.

What does that mean to you?

I was on the phone with a client yesterday whose number one roadblock is herself. She works hard, wants to fix her technical and tactical aspects all while getting caught up in her big brain.

I’ve been working with her for three years now. We have tried a number of approaches together. She’s taken the tools I’ve given her and run with them. She has these moments of brilliance, like last season where she won her first race, and is on a high then crashes.

Consistent, solid performances are the nirvana of every athlete.

It’s what I want for all my clients.

How do you get there?

By building foundational pieces. By working just as hard on your mental aspect as you do on your physical, technical and tactical aspects. Repetition. 300 repetitions forms a habit.

By using the tools I teach and figuring out which ones work best for you in your mental recipe. By focusing on how you want to feel in your best performances. Feelings drive actions and great results.

I attract clients who teach me what I most need to learn. There is no such thing as coincidences. I learn as I teach them. I get as much, if not more, out of my conversations with the athletes I work with.

I too need to get out of my own way. I need to believe in the gift and value that I bring to these athletes and the power that lies in spreading this knowledge out to the Universe. The ripple effect is huge.

The tools I teach are as good for sport as they are for life.

Believe in yourself. It changes everything.

Resonance

Today’s post is on another tool I use frequently in my sports psychology business. In fact my practice is geared around this element.

I work from feelings because I believe they are what motivate us on a daily basis whether we’re conscious of them or not. The way we drive, our food choices and what we wear are all influenced by how we feel.

I remember asking people on a gray rainy day at work why they chose to wear the somber attire they chose that day. Universally people said it’s because they were feeling blah and the weather was gloomy. I, on the other hand, chose to wear bright colors to make sure I felt cheery since the weather wasn’t very nice that day.

How you feel dictates whether you’ll have that pint of ice cream, that second piece of cheesecake or the half dozen cookies. How many times do we portray a woman eating a pint of ice cream as a remedy for a broken heart. It may be counter intuitive but get out for some fresh air and a walk instead. You’ll definitely feel better for it!

I think I’ve established a pattern here. So how do we apply it to our athletic endeavors and every day life? Easy.

I ask all my athletes to think about how they want to feel while they are engaging in their chosen sport. For the ski racers I work with I go a step further. I ask them to think about how they want to feel in all four disciplines.

The next step is integrating the feeling they’ve identified into their imagery. This is an important step because they want to be able to call on and replicate that feeling again and again in their performance.

Being able to increase awareness around how you feel and having the ability to affect change around it is a powerful tool that can help you not only in sport but also in every day life.

Give it a try. Do your feelings influence your actions on a daily basis? I’d love to hear what you think.