Lots of athletes tell me about the emotions they feel. They tell me they are fearful, worried and so on. Then they tell me they have felt this way for a long time: “I’ve always worried about my serve”; “I can’t seem to shake these fears about losing” and “I wish I didn’t feel so guilty all the time about not training”. These athletes tell me about their emotions but they do not tell me anything else. They don’t tell me what the emotion is trying to tell them. They don’t tell me what the emotion means to them. For example, when an athlete tells me she worries about not performing well in a race; perhaps a worry she has had for a long time, she tells herself the story about her worry. She tells herself this story over and over again; however, she does not move forward. Why? Because she does not hear the message that her emotion is sending to her. Her ‘fear’ might tell her: I’m not prepared for the race. This message might be true so we need to examine the evidence. The evidence shows she prepared as possible. The fear she is feeling is unfounded. She needs to ‘update’ the story she is telling herself and address the meaning she is taking from her ‘fear’. When this athlete recognised how her fear was about her ‘state of readiness’ she realised that fear was sending her a message to change - Change how you talk to yourself and make sense of racing. She learned to examine her emotions, their messages and how to change her perception or action about them.
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