If you want to throw any person off of their game, shift their attention. Where attention goes, emotions are immediately activated.
Matt, a high school player I was working with, was overwhelmed with anxiety on the bench during a game. Literally shaking. I educated him on what I’m about to share now and it never happened again. Here’s what it is.
Here’s what is known
Whenever something comes into our attention it goes to the emotional center of our brain much faster than it gets to where we make decisions in our brain. What that means is if you are paying attention to something emotionally charging for you, it can overwhelm your capacity to act. And strong emotions will affect your ability to pay attention too. When the stress response is activated, the higher it goes the more tunnel vision our attention gets.
Because of the connection between our attention and our emotions we should always aim to have control over and know where our attention is while at the same time questioning if it’s necessary for your attention to be there. For Matt, understanding this was all he needed. His mind was focused on people and coaches not thinking he was good enough and it paralyzed him.
I also revealed a common understanding in the world of psychology – feelings aren’t facts, they’re feelings and can be shifted. Right now if you tried to remember an embarrassing moment you had AND the most fun you had doing something, you will notice that your body will feel the respective emotions all over again. BUT what you’ll also recognize is that you are able to switch between the moments. That switching capability is what you must use when your attention is in a place that is not relevant for your success.
Getting a grasp of your emotional awareness is equally as important as learning the skill needed for performance. Because if you don’t, a simple emotional nudge can make you play out of character. Here’s how you can begin the journey of recognizing your emotional space. Learning your space begins with being able to label what’s happening.
There are 4 core emotions: Fear, Sadness, Happy, Angry. And there are other emotions that fall under each category…like this.
A simple exercise to do is a daily reflection to see what the overall emotion you carried through the day was and write it down. Do this also for situations…especially if you are in sports, do it for how you felt during practice or games. At the end of every week, notice which emotions you generally carry around then ask yourself how helpful it is for you. Only you know that.
IF you want to carry around a different emotion, you MUST shift your attention to things that will produce that emotion. That takes a conscious daily routine change. Think of it like running the edge of a dime on the surface of a wooden table; the more you run it over the same area the deeper the rut. That’s exactly what happens when trying to shift to a different way of thinking but you first have to make the groove.
Listen, we don’t have to be enslaved to the emotions we experience, the attitude that we express or the behaviors that we believe is “just me”. If you want more managing control over your performance, first increase your awareness of the connection between the first two miles of The Core FOUR Sequence!
© 2018, Ira Webbe Jr all rights reserved