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Have you ever wondered what makes you unique or different? Or thought about how two people could look at the same situation and see two completely different stories?
The difference in our understanding of the world fascinates me. My fascination started when I retired from swimming. I was so excited for the future, only to realize I had no idea who I was outside of my sport. On the pool deck, I had developed a skill set that was quite impressive. From swimming technique and playing around (by blowing bubble rings from the bottom of the pool) to hard work, dedication, and motivation, my fifteen years under water had certainly left me with a lot of life skills. But when it came time to apply those skills away from the water, things got tricky.
Like any athlete stepping away from the structure of professional or collegiate sports, I struggled quite a bit in my attempts to adapt to life on dry land. All those skills that I knew I had just didn’t seem to fit into this new world. I knew I was motivated, but I was motivated as an athlete. I knew I was a hard worker, but hard work meant, how hard could I push my body before I tap out? What I was good at, how I functioned—they all had to do with a pool. I had defined my world around this lifestyle that I was no longer in.
I’ve learned so much since I’ve opened myself up to noticing how my world is defined. I began to notice my views on what I deserve from others, how I fit in—even crazy stuff I never knew, like how much money I think I deserve to make. Imagine trying to run your first marathon when every day of training, your mind is telling you that you’ll never be able to make it to the finish line! Once I notice them, I can work on rewriting my world.
When you notice a habit or a piece of your personality, ask yourself why you are that way. Sure, hiding in the back of the room in first grade was a great strategy for avoiding being called on by the teacher, but your tendency is still to be hidden in a crowd, in a meeting, or at an event. Is that really serving you anymore?
It’s these discoveries that led me towards what I do now. Being fascinated with the control that our mind has over every part of our lives, I now work with mental training for sports and for life. It’s an undervalued yet enormous piece of all athletic success as well as living a happier, more successful life.
What is mental training? Give it a try!
Here’s a writing exercise that will give you a peek at what’s going on inside your head. Take twenty minutes to sit down in a quiet place where you can focus. On a piece of paper or in a journal (no keypads or iPads), follow this train of thought wherever it leads you: “I deserve to . . .”