Tag Archive: Emotional Intelligence
Postural Enlightenment- (a mental training exercise)
Postural Enlightenment is a way of focusing on how we are doing. Just a short post to remind everyone during the holiday’s to stay focused on what is important in their lives. Team, family, friends can not be forgotten. Your goals are important, but remember to take time for others. This time of year for some brings on a malaise or sadness. I try never to use the word depression as this is a clinical term and as you know I do not work with clinical issues. But from time to time sadness comes into the lives of most of us and we must learn to deal. So especially this time of year, I would like you to look around and pay attention not only to others, but to yourself. Get in touch with your feelings and sort things out. Self awareness is critical to becoming the athlete and person you would like to be. In this light I want you to become aware of one simple thing. It is simple and can change your perspective very quickly.
Let us have good head and shoulders—the basic elegant posture of enlightenment and peace. This is a statement I have seen for many years. I may have heard it stated this way from an associate who was also a yoga instructor. Yoga which focuses so acutely on form can send us an important message.
I can’t tell you how many times I remind athletes that our state of mind can dependent on our posture. The athlete knows the importance of posture, of proper breath, of being relaxed. Of course, you can tell when someone is sad, they slump. Problem is- it’s self-fulfilling. It’s hard to cheer up, mentally, when, physically, you’re slumped. Also notice a person’s or your own shoulders. Are you or they wearing shoulders for earrings?
I was asked the other day and not for the first time why do mental training? I have been a proponent for three decades now that everyone should do mental training and working with someone like myself can help give every athlete a new set of tools or even one tool that will help them get to a new level of performance. I have worked with beginners to world champions and everyone finds something that is useful to them. But the question is still often asked so I thought I would address it here today.
The usual questions start with how does mental training or sport psychology help athlete’s perform at a higher level. Generally before I can answer that question the person will ask; will it help me deal with ___________________? There is a long list usually dealing with fear or anxiety. The answer is yes it will help and in so many other areas as well. Usually people will ask about a certain area.
In general I usually work with athletes on some form of the things I have listed below. If you are astute the thing you will notice is that I have listed a combination of training techniques and issues. I’ve done this because over the years I have found that people tend to think about sport psychology in both terms issues and techniques. An example is relaxation training. Athletes may want to learn how to deal with stress and the easiest way for them to talk about it is they want to learn to relax. Whatever way you want to think about is OK. What I want you to understand is that regardless of how you think about sport psychology and mental training it must be in your arsenal as a hockey player. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have, and I have worked with world champions, this is an area that you can improve and help yourself get to the next level.
The Mental Game: Coin Flip to increase self-awareness
Here is a new exercise called Coin Flip. I borrowed this from a friend. I am very sure it was not really intended to be a psychological teaching exercise, but more a metaphor perhaps. Just the same I can see many ways of using this to help people understand their own minds a little better. This will be short and as I develop this a little more I will likely add to this discussion. Use this regardless of your sport. You could be a golfer, football player or track star. You might play hockey or ride horses. This exercise can open your eyes.
So here is how it goes The Mental Game Coin Flip
Some people will tell you that this is about letting fate determine your future. They believe if I am asking them to flip a coin to make a decision that I am saying leave it to luck or some random result. That is not what I am saying at all. I am pointing out that when the coin is in mid flip you will become aware of what you really want. People believe that their gut instincts are right most of the time.
Indecision comes not so much from not knowing what you want but from a lack of awareness to what you want. When you flip that coin in the air, there becomes a moment of truth where it is hard to sit on the fence. You will become aware of what you really want the outcome to be. Self-awareness is a key component of Emotional Intelligence. This becomes a way of not only making a clear decision but becoming more self-aware.
Unfortunately when people actually flip a coin to make real decisions they very often go with fate. I think when you do this properly; you really determine your own fate. Because heads or tails whatever you decide in the moment when the coin is in the air, is what you should go with not what the result happens to be.
Let’s play with it. Pick something you need to make a decision about. You say you are torn and can’t do it. Flip a coin high in the air. Are you neutral to the outcome? If it is important to you, then I would think not. You will have a thought like Heads or Tails. Not wishing necessarily, just projecting. So there is your answer. You don’t even need to see the result. In fact I would say don’t even look. You know in your gut what you want to do. If you were to do this over the course of a short period of time and ask yourself what are some of the reasons for my ultimate choices you begin to increase your own awareness.
So here is something I would love people to respond to. Give a sports example that this could apply to. Maybe should you go for a run today or something more important like changing coaches?
Give this a turn or rather a flip the next time you think you don’t know your own mind.
Control Anger: Keep your cool
In sport we often need to control anger. It is a natural emotion experienced by almost all people, and as something that has functional value for survival. Anger can mobilize psychological resources for corrective action. Uncontrolled anger can, however, negatively affect personal or social well-being.
Athletes know when they not focused, not working hard or just plain not bringing it. An opponent likely is getting in their head, or your coach is yelling at you; it can cause frustration that can affect one’s performance causing angry outbursts.
If you are competitive and that winning seems to be everything when on the ice; as most athletes do, and that when the heat of the game is on they may let things go right away. Then in this precarious emotional state something happens in the game. Maybe there is a little extra contact. Maybe someone takes a cheap shot at one of your team mates. So what can you do? Push the player back? Fight? Yell at your coach? Yell at your teammates? Take yourself out of the game? Get thrown out of the game? Whichever one you decide to do, it is probably not the best way to handle the situation, and at the end of the day, is it really helping you? Or is it actually hurting you and your team? Most likely it will be the latter. However, the way you react can make or break the game you are in. A negative reaction can lead to a lack of coordination between you and the other players on your team throwing the entire team off-balance. A positive reaction, however, can inspire you and your team creating an unspoken commitment and drive from each player to put everything they have into the game, creating unity throughout the entire team. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that an aggressive act to protect your team mates or yourself in inappropriate. I could hardly work with hockey players if I believed that o be the case. I am suggesting however that whatever you do is based on cool calculation and not anger.
On Being Overconfident
On being overconfident what does this mean? Part of the goal in working with athletes either as a sport psychology consultant or as a coach is to produce confident athletes. We know both from practical application and research that confident athletes perform at higher levels than athletes lacking in this competency of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). However, it is important to look at confidence on a continuum from low self-confidence to overconfidence. We know athletes fail on either end of this continuum. Muhammad Ali had a supreme level of confidence that served him well.
Fear of Failure or is it the Fear of Failing?
Fear of Failure or is it the Fear of Failing? I was reading someone’s blog. They are a personal trainer, not a sport psychology consultant. I’m not saying that because I’m academically prejudiced about personal trainers. Just about the best friends I have are trainers and coaches and I borrow concepts from them all of the time. I just want to make it clear that their definition is based on their experience. As I guess you could say are all of ours.
They were talking about FEAR. Primarily Fear of Failure. It was a decent piece as far as it went. The writer unfortunately does not understand the subtle difference between Fear of failure and fear of failing.
They wrote “FEAR can be scary; it can definitely hold athletes back from accomplishing many great things. But as a trainer my job is to take that Fear and turn it into a positive. Turn it into something that the athlete can use to strive to become better. For example, my Fear is failure, I do not want to fail at anything I do, so I push myself to achieve greatness at all things. I do not always succeed but I learn many great lessons from my failures. We as athletes, coaches, parents have to turn the Fear of something into a positive, so we can achieve greatness on all levels. We need to strive to be better today than we were yesterday”. I do wish it was just that easy, but they made some interesting statements. Most of all it got me thinking about the difference between Failure and Failing.
How to Control Your Emotions by the Mindvalley Team
I have looked to add some guest posts to this blog. This post has been written by the Mindvalley Team. Mindvalley is one of the world’s fastest growing online publishing companies. Through a unique blend of conscious marketing, technology and a fun and quirky work culture, the Mindvalley team spreads enlightened ideas across the internet and beyond. This one is about how to control your emotions.
Please read and enjoy. This follows closely with many of the concepts I have posted on Emotional Intelligence.
Control Your Emotions
Controlling our emotions is essential to keeping ourselves calm and detached enough to make good decisions and do what we want or need to do. When we are constantly overrun by our emotional states, we lose our ability to think and act in an appropriate manner. Many people mistake their emotions for the reality of a situation, but emotions are really just intuitive cues that help us navigate our true needs and desires. A strong emotion indicates something we have either a strong desire for, or an aversion to. By reading these emotions we can better understand ourselves, but if we become our emotions, we miss out on a valuable opportunity to learn from our experiences.
Some emotions seem too powerful and overwhelming to control, but the fact is we are always in control. When an emotion arises or surprises us, we decide in that moment whether to run with it and talk to ourselves about it, or whether to bring into it and let it go. Emotions may arise in a reaction to something else, but they are fed with our thoughts. This means the moment we feel an emotion running away with us, we can stop, take a deep breath and stop our thoughts. When the mind stops, all that is left is the feeling, and it will run through us and then be gone.
We can also change our thoughts if we feel overwhelmed by an emotion or situation and can’t seem to let it go. A simple thought we can use is one of acceptance of ourselves, the others involved and the situation itself. This is simply done by saying something like, “I don’t like this, but I accept that it is this way, and I am ready to let go of my anger and fix it.” This is a statement that both let’s go of what is happening, and empowers us toward the solution. It is the perfect balance of accepting and owning what is happening.
We can also use simple breathing techniques to take us out of an emotion or out of thoughts that cause unhappy or unhealthy emotions. Counting the breath is one simple way to direct our attention toward something else. We can bring our focus to our breath and let the emotion do what it will. When we stay with our breathing, we no longer feed the anger, sadness, or fear that is overwhelming us. It can then pass through us as we feel it fully and let it go.
For times when we are incredibly upset, anxious, or physically, emotionally, and mentally worked up, we can use long, slow, deep breathing. Instead of counting the breath, we draw our attention to it and actively work to lengthen and deepen it. This means we close our eyes and slowly, deeply, consciously breath until we are calm again. Then we attempt to view or approach what is happening from a new angle. In this way we stay completely in control of our feelings and reactions.
The more we get ahold of how we are feeling and keep them from overrunning them, the easier this becomes. When our emotions are used to ruling the day and ruling us, they tend to take over in most situations. This is a problem, because emotions are not really meant to be the governing force of our lives, they are only meant to increase our experiences and to give us valuable clues in our decision making. Emotions are fickle, temporary, and often merely an initial reflex of our egos. While we can never discount emotion entirely, it is necessary to balance it with our reason, intuition, and higher minds.
Ego is a very reactionary, fearful, emotional part of our selves. Often, it uses emotions to take over and turn us inward and make us selfish or self-centered. If we let this happen, we will find ourselves constantly being worked into a state of unrest. This is our ego clinging to a self and holding onto to discontentment in order to keep us from being happy and getting what we want. It is a way we become limited, and give up our personal power. When we control our emotions, however, we make room for our truer, more powerful, positive selves to shine through.
Learn more stress relief techniques and easy techniques of relaxation
Motivation, Success and Understanding
I’ve written about motivation before on this blog and it’s a major theme in “The Athlete within You”. Understanding what drives you is very important to your success. This came up the other day with one of my client / athletes. In going over her ESi (Emotional Intelligence Sports Inventory) we discussed her low Achievement Drive. A part of a measure of her internal motivation. The first question I generally ask of course is “WHY do you compete?” Usually I get a fairly trivial answer or one that doesn’t often ring true. With some exploration we generally start to see a better clearer picture of why someone competes and what their purpose is playing a sport. In my gymnast’s case, she thought she was competing to to get into the college of her choice. As we explored her “why” it became clear to her that her real motive was to be part of something special at college. I could see a change in her behavior and her emotions as she understood her “why”. Understanding her why gave her the conviction to commit to part of her routine at State and Regional’s that had recently caused her to fear her dismount in one of the events. Understanding her “Why” isn’t the only technique I taught her to use in overcoming her fear, but her understanding made it far easier for her to believe in herself and that she could place and move on to Regional’s and then National’s.
I got a message from her mother last night and then an email from her this morning that she finished in the top four in all round and took first in one event and will be headed to Nationals. I pretty good change for someone stuck three weeks ago fearing that her dream might be finished. I am really happy for her.
I’m not writing about her accomplishment because I need to brag about being good at what I do. After 30 years of working with athletes, her story is familiar and while I do myself feel great about helping her, (It is my Why after all), I wanted to write about her because she demonstrates so clearly by example what happens when you increase your self awareness and discover your “WHY”.
As I got ready to write this post, a Facebook “friend” posted a video on his drive for success and I want to share it with you here. It is a very short video. The athlete is Bryan Clay. Bryan is the reigning World and Olympic Gold medalist in Decathlon. I have a soft spot for decathletes as one of my first clients was one. So here is the short video.