Can you think of a time where vulnerability may be a good thing?
I think this may be a good opportunity for me to get vulnerable with you.
When I first heard about sport psychology, I thought about how amazing a field this must be. It combined a few of my passions with counseling and helping others with the field of athletics and competitions. There was initially a part of me that thought this was too good to be true, but alas I was able to get my degree and begin doing my own training sessions with the Mental Peak.
I think a lot of clients begin working with people in the psychology field thinking that these professionals have it all together. They may think that their counselors or mental health professionals never think anything negative in their minds or that they are always managing their emotions perfectly or that they feed and fuel their minds and bodies with only the best and purest things to help them be 100% all the time.
Unfortunately, this may be some ground breaking news for you, but I am here to tell you that us in the counseling field do not always feel that we are performing at our peaks. Many of us, myself included, are works in progress.
I myself have struggled with managing my emotions when playing basketball in high school and in college. There were situations where I thought the ref made a bad call or I was mad at myself for making a mistake. Instead of managing my emotions in the game, I would dwell on those mistakes which usually led to making more mistakes and worse situations for me and my team. It was my personal experience understanding and becoming self-aware of this that led me to exploring the effects of anger on sport performance for my undergraduate thesis.
While I personally think I have become better at managing my emotions through the training and awareness that I have received (although, again, we are all a work in progress), I still struggle with that little devil that typically sits on people’s shoulders in cartoons. I am talking about the negative statements I find in my self-talk.
Although I am not competing in sports as much anymore, I am still an avid runner where I find myself alone with my thoughts and competing against myself. While this is usually the alone time and solitude that I find myself needing to process and work through things that may be on my mind, I still find myself not being able to push through hard runs or feeling like a failure if I don’t go as fast or as long as I had originally intended to do. It still takes a lot of practice to remind myself of things that I have learned and teach to others when I am in the moment to use them myself. I have to consciously remind myself to use mantras that have worked for me in the past such as, “easy, light, smooth.”
While you are reading this and wondering why I am sharing the fact that I am still a work in progress when it comes to my own mental skills training, I think that is something that helps me continue to grow as a professional. It encourages me to continue to research and learn from other sport psychology professionals, coaches, consultants, etc. Continuing to do something athletic where I am literally competing against myself is a great place to try to implement some of the things that I learn before trying it with other clients. I can see what worked best for me and use that to help others, or I can further learn how to customize different options for players to get better.
I simply see myself as someone who can educate others about the mental skills tools that I have learned over the years, especially the ones that I have been able to use myself. I think some of the best educators that I have ever had were ones who were willing to continue learning themselves to find the best methods of teaching or the best ways to get their points across to their students. That is my goal, to be an adaptable educator when working with athletes.
If you or someone you know is interested in using mental skills training to reach their peak performance whether that is in athletic competition or in the business consulting world, contact me at email@example.com!