Springtime is Sports Season

Since it’s the playoffs, March Madness, football drafts, baseball, and of course tennis…I wanted to take this seasonal opportunity to connect cognitive therapy with athletic performance.

Consider the following quote from one of my favorite books, The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay:

The mind is the athlete; the body is simply the means it uses to run faster or longer, jump higher, shoot straighter, kick better, swim harder, hit further, or box better…the dictum to me, “First with the head, then with the heart,” was more than simply mixing brains with guts. It meant thinking well beyond the powers of normal concentration and then daring your courage to follow your thoughts.

An athlete who is not paying attention to self-talk will learn a lot when he’s up against some trouble. And so will the rest of us.

Creating a “challenge” to negative thoughts is the MOST difficult and important element. I work with clients and athletes to help them really practice challenges that allows them to break through these moments where maintaining confidence is crucial.

Try this on your own:

Think about something you are concerned about. This becomes the “event.”

Event: “Thinking about…where to go for grad school.”

What are your automatic and negative thoughts about this?

Chances are that these thoughts are pretty limiting-AND they don’t do anything constructive for your problem. How can you challenge these thoughts?

Challenge: “I’m going to make the best decision I can about grad school. What’s important is that I not be afraid to try something, even if it isn’t my first choice. I won’t let this get in my way.”

This year, for spring cleaning, go ahead and throw away the old magazines, mystery keys, mismatched socks, and clothes you’ve never looked good in. Then get started on throwing away the big stuff: outdated beliefs that aren’t serving you anymore, ideas about yourself and others that keep you in the same old patterns.

And remember: to really make it stick, you sometimes have to get up and throw it all away all over again every morning.