3 clues you may need to strengthen your mental muscle

written by Erica Quam

Great coaches are usually great at managing others...but how well do they manage themselves?

Everyone knows that a huge component of sports is mental. How exactly does mindset impact coaches? Consider these three statements:

  1. What you think influences how you feel. 
  2. How you feel influences what you do.
  3. What you do influences what you think.

The mental and physical are intertwined and interrelated. When we think positive thoughts and feel positive feelings it strengthens our bodies and even improves our immune system. The opposite is also true - if we think negative thoughts and feel negative feelings it weakens us.

We have thousands of thoughts each day and many of them are repeated. Repeating negative thoughts can keep us stuck in a negative loop that may spiral downward. This can impact us - and everyone in our path.

Here are a few clues you may have some mindset work to do:

1. You're restless. 

You have an urge to fill empty space. You may not even be aware of it!

Our lives are noisy and busy. Our brains are becoming addicted to distraction. Each time we hear an alert go off and we pick up the phone to check, it's like another dopamine hit. 

When was the last time you just waited for something...without checking email, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever else you're checking these days?

When there’s a space empty of doing, restless voices rise up. We feel compelled to fill the spaces. However, in these empty spaces, we have a choice between doing and being. This is where possibility and opportunity emerge. 

What to try:

Try allowing yourself to have more empty space. Resist the urge to busy yourself just to be doing something.

How it helps:

You may find a new level of awareness - of your thoughts, of your surroundings and of new ideas to bring into your life. 

2. You're Waiting

When you think about new possibilities in your career or in your life you procrastinate. Instead of doing one thing to take action you stay stuck. You put off decisions you know can help move you forward. We wait for big things - like leaving one coaching job to go for another. We wait for small things - like signing up for a new class at the gym.

What are you waiting for?

We wait for permission - someone to tell us what we're are doing is right. We wait for perfection - for conditions to be exactly the way we want them to be. We wait for certainty - where all the signs of the universe align to give us a green light. We wait for rescue - someone to come and make everything okay. We wait for discovery - for someone to realize our true value and invite us to take the next step.

What to try:

Begin to notice when you are waiting. Observe how much energy it takes to wait. Then, try taking one action to move forward. It can be as simple as writing it down or even scheduling a time to make the decision. 

How it helps:

This teaches your brain that there's a deadline to the open loops you have in your head. Your brain spends lots of time and energy trying to figure these things out - whether you are aware of it or not. You may find that simply by writing it down you are more clear on your next step.

3. You're Irritated

Someone's walking down the hallway at work humming her favorite tune, and thoughts come up in our head: "What's she so happy about anyway?” Or even worse...we collude with others with an array of snarky comments: “Does she think everyone wants to hear her whistling?"

Meanwhile, who’s suffering? We’re the ones in pain. Our brains think if we project our irritation onto another person, it'll make us feel better. Wrong! Irritation can actually become a habit. Feelings can evolve into resentment that inevitably eat away at other relationships in our life.

What to try:

Try noticing these voices of irritation as they come up. Stop. Ask yourself what else may be going on that is actually the root of the problem? 

How it helps:

The irritation signals us that something isn’t right. With awareness, we can use this information to be constructive. Instead of deflecting it and wasting time, we can actually begin to work on a solution.

I am a huge believer in the power of getting outside support on this. Working on mindset can be harder than figuring out the best training plan or next new piece of equipment to buy. Have resources you can tap into that help ground and center you. Have someone you can talk to - outside of your staff or your spouse. Tap into the wisdom of other people further along the journey, who can help you move forward. The more you work on yourself - and your mindset - the better you will be for yourself and others.

Which of the 3 resonates with you the most? What's one action you will take? Add it to the comments below.