Fear again

I’ve written on this topic many times here.

I was chatting with a new client this weekend and fear came up yet again.

It wasn’t till after the call was done and I had time to think, that I realized how applicable to my own life the words I imparted to her were.

This young client had an exceptional ski racing season two years ago. Last winter she felt the pressure of her own expectations take over and became focused on results instead of trusting herself to ski the way she can.

That’s a big statement coming from a 14 year old.

Great insight isn’t it? She did well in training but come race day she couldn’t seem to put things together. The good news is this is a common challenge and the tools I gave her will help her tremendously this winter.

Her being scared came up at least three times during our conversation. She wasn’t comfortable with speed and going fast. Gates coming at her rapidly in slalom unnerved her as did laying down solid slalom runs.

We talked about fear. She expressed how irrational it was to be afraid of gates coming at her face. I normalized her experience and said all humans have that natural reaction and that her confidence will come with mileage in the gates. Exposure to gates coming at your face is the only way she’s going to move through this fear.

Speed and going fast is a fear that presents itself naturally. I freaking loved speed but I’m sure my first few runs on those big fast skis were unsettling. Again, I normalized things for her and encouraged her to use her body as a tool to combat her fear. Instead of getting in the back seat and being hesitant, to charge and throw her body forward.

Our bodies can alter our feelings. Taking an athletic stance and what I like to call a hero pose of hands on hips, breathing and really feeling that confidence flow are so empowering. It’s another tool I gave her to use, one I think will have a big impact on her.

We talked about the importance of positive thinking. It’s impossible to be all rainbows, puppy dogs and unicorns all the time but instead being aware of your mindset. What are you saying to yourself?

When I do group workshops I poll the kids about their mindset. Is it 50-50 positive and negative, 70% positive, 30% negative or the reverse? It’s fascinating to see where kids lie in the spectrum and it gives me an indication of where they need to focus.

The first step in shifting mindset is awareness of what you’re actually saying to yourself. Questioning the veracity of your perception and then shifting it towards a more positive outcome.

When a negative mindset pattern has been operating for a while, it’ll take a tremendous amount of attention, energy and work to affect change. Like I tell my clients, it’s taken you a while to walk into the woods, it’ll take a while for you to walk out. Patience and gentleness are key.

What struck me afterwards was how this call applies to my own life.

I just recently started a new job and I love it. I get to write and help people with my words. I feel part of a family in the team I work with.

You’d think I’d be happy right? I was, briefly. Then self-protective, survival mechanisms took over and I drove myself into a state of anxiety so bad I could barely breathe. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Is that productive thinking? Hell no.

Did I go there? Me? Someone who teaches positive psychology for a living? Yup.

Fortunately my people are close by. It only takes a phone call or a text and I’ve got someone telling me what I need to hear and bringing me back to the here and now. Reminding me to breathe, to slow my thoughts down and to question the veracity of what I’m feeling.

Feelings are not facts my friends.

I love what I do. I’m good at it and I’ve had messages from the people I work with of just that, yet I don’t trust myself to shine.

In times like these, it helps me to look at things from another perspective. What would I say to one of my clients if they were feeling this way?

I’d remind them to breathe. I’d tell them they are safe and okay. I’d ask them to list the things they like about themselves and focus on their strengths. I’d ask them to draw the lessons they needed from their past experiences and not let their past dictate their present.

Those are exactly the words I’ve been saying to myself when that four letter word called fear crawls into my brain space.

Fear means false evidence appearing real or face everything and rise.

It goes to show how powerful our minds are. It’s so important to guard our mindsets. They create the world we live in.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does a Christmas craft market have to do with sports psychology?

So what does a Christmas craft show have to do with sports psychology exactly?

I love watching human behavior. I was at a Christmas craft show this week. Being a social creature, I interacted with a lot of the vendors. What was interesting was watching different vendors interact with the public.

There were those who were gregarious and welcoming. Others who were quieter and more self-effacing.

Furniture has a huge impact on social interactions. Think about it. If ┬ásomeone is sitting behind a counter, there is an automatic barrier between that person and potential customers. I saw all kinds of interactions while at the craft show and one thing is for sure, it’s really important to engage with your customers.

If you are selling anything other than food, which seems to produce easy sales once you have samples. How else are you going to engage that potential customer?

I noticed the crowd effect happen many times. At any booth where there were lots of people, sales were brisk. Why? Because people are social animals. If a booth is busy, people are curious as to what is being sold and want in on the action.

I had a positive sales experience with a booth whose owner was one of the most outgoing and chatty people at the show. Some would say pushy. But you know what? He was selling. He rarely stopped talking about his products and I was charmed by his gregariousness. The result: brisk sales.

I went to another booth and the owner was demure, self-effacing and not very present. She was a paper artist. I was interested in some of her pieces and asked whether she had a promotion if I was to buy more than one piece. She seemed taken aback by the question and quickly said no. My response? I walked away. She lost a sale.

As an artist myself and someone who often has to educate and persuade clients of the value of my services, I would not let a client walk away.

It’s really that simple: do you want to sell? Then let’s make a deal.

As humans we connect and buy from people we like, know and trust. As a vendor at a craft show, you don’t have very long to engage with a customer and make a sale. You have to capitalize on every opportunity to interact with people, to establish rapport and to educate them on your product. It really is that simple.

I had a great time at the craft show, as a matter of fact, I went back a second day for more.

How does this relate to sports psychology?

Simple. It’s about mindset. As an athlete do you have growth mindset or a fixed mindset? Are you open to learning, engaging and being successful? Are you willing to build on success?

Sales and athletic performances are not so different are they?