We train our bodies to function efficiently, and we train it for patterned movement. When we do that consistently we can reasonably expect that it will produce an outcome in sync with the work we did to prepare, in other words, it does what we expect it to.
The brain is an incredible instrument, we can learn something new and the brain will work out the pattern it needs to use to navigate it effectively, taking in all the idiosyncrasy’s of your individual body and sorting them into a physical pattern that works.
It’s a miracle that we fully trust in. The more consistently you train the new movement pattern, the more physically adapted you become.
There is another realm here that athletes tend to really struggle with, we can use many names to tag it, and here are a few; mind, ego, thoughts, belief, ideology.
Now the strange thing about the mind is that we expect it to behave like the body, we trust it will align itself with the process, and it can.
Like everything else mind patterns itself on what you feed it. Probably more so than the body. If we feed it conflicting thoughts, we get conflict, if we feed it chaos, we get chaos, it’s pretty reliable, we can trust it to do what it does.
The difference is the mind wanders, goes off track, ruminates, scans for threat. Perhaps it’s most challenging aspect is that it opposes your process at the very same time it ally’s itself to it.
But it’s also big on patterns, unlike physical training, the mind/ego is running patterns and scripts that have been running since you were an infant.
As athletes, we pay very close attention to our physical patterns while we let our mind/ego run dysfunctional scripts and patterns that are decades old, mostly unconsciously.
We hide them from others because we don’t want them seen, but more importantly, we hide them from ourselves because they are too uncomfortable.
We are fine with physical discomfort and avoidant at psychological discomfort. However your makeup is two parts of one whole.
At some point you are going to have to acknowledge the left hand side of your face, you can’t turn away from it forever.
Importantly, if you think mental health means you are outwardly successful, you’d be wrong. The world is full of broken down successful people.
Even if the body plays ball and lets you physically succeed, you will still have to acknowledge the left hand side of your face. Using a metaphor, just because something is hidden in the dark doesn’t mean it’s not there, or that you can’t feel it’s presence. Ignoring it won’t change it.
Ultimately it is the acceptance of your dysfunctional thought patterns that paves the way to a happier life, both as an athlete and a human being.
When you enquire into it, see how it works and what it says, then you can become the powerbroker of the thought you follow and the thought you let go of, and not a second before.
In a similar way to physical training, nothing happens if you don’t get off your arse!
People also make the mistake of scratching the surface and then commenting that psychology and enquiry doesn’t work, but as I said earlier, if you think you are going to overcome a lifetime of thought patterns in a few sessions then your mind is once again wandering into delusional territory.
Like everything else in life, it requires simple consistency. Just don’t be afraid to explore your own inner state, but do it impartially, as an observer, be curious, why do I have these thoughts? Where do they come from? When did they start?
The tracking leads you to understanding, and understanding is all you need to release yourself from the more negative, judgmental aspects of mind/ego.
While they are hidden they are drawing your unconscious energy and coming out against you when you are most challenged. As an athlete when do you think you will be most challenged?
Going back to physicality for a moment, if we are training our bodies for a certain movement pattern, we don’t train the opposite of the pattern and then expect the body to adapt, but this is often what we do with the mind/ego.
When you track the mind you will see it’s opposing nature, it’s a constant state of for and against.
The deep embedded unconscious patterns you’ve been carrying around in your noggin since day dot, are coming out to play when you least want them to.
What to do?
Allow them into the light, watch them, feel the emotions and the body reactions when you do that, find out what impacts these thoughts are having on your performances and more importantly on your life.
Accept them from a place of observation, and in time you will discover the power of being able to not follow them down the worm hole.
Once you learn that you don’t have to get rid of them, the opposition will cease, oh, this is just what my mind/ego says when I’m deeply challenged, and that’s ok, it doesn’t define me, it’s not what I am.
I have a mind, but I am not the mind.
Now you are the powerbroker of your own state.