Jun 14, 2010

Handling Pressure is not Allowed!

by Dayne Gingrich, Mental Skill Coach

This topic seems to continuously show it's face, whether it's with one of my students or my own day-to-day walk. It's such an important issue, as it always finds it's way into every aspect of our lives. Very often, we tend to overlook the importance pressure plays in our motivations and our attempts to reach our specific goals. I want to address a certain part of this word, and how it's presented to most of us... actually, all of us!

When we meet pressure head-on, we've been taught to "handle" or "deal" with it as well as we can. As I was trying to reach new levels in my athletic career, I was constantly taught that the athlete who "deals with pressure best will always come out ahead." "Whoever handles the pressure, and can play through it, will separate himself from the competition." Watching the Olympics this year, I've heard this advice from the announcers every other sentence... it's driving me crazy. 

I now understand they were all wrong, and have mislead our thinking and approach to this powerful word! Let me explain:

We don't "handle" a healthier body, do we? We don't "deal" with eating correctly, and exercising regularly. We love our new body... we embrace and invite the proper foods into our diet, and the endorphin rush that results from exercise.

We don't "handle" a birdie in golf... we hope for, love, and need it."

We don't "deal" with an A on our exams... we yearn for it, study our butts off, expect that grade.

We should be embracing pressure... making it a part of our core belief system, realizing this is the only way we'll truly excel. It shouldn't be a separate entity, but rather a major piece of who we are internally.

So, why are we supposed to handle and deal with pressure? We associate pressure with negativity, and have made adversity and pressure synonymous. We've linked this negativity into our unconscious, creating a monster that very often feels unbeatable. Simply put, pressure is a bad word in our language.

It doesn't have to be... this is my goal.

Instead of thinking of pressure as something to deal with, we should be putting our arms around it, inviting it into our every move. It's because of pressure that we've succeeded. Let me repeat: Pressure is the reason we reach new levels. It isn't something to fear or run away from... and definitely not something we need to handle!

How do we reshape our mindsets, making pressure work for us?

Redefine the word...

Rather than equating fear with pressure, make it an OPPORTUNITY. It's an opportunity to... (you fill in the blank, depending on your motivations and goals). Finishing that sentence with anything you want is the best, and most powerful part of your new definition. Opportunity doesn't allow fear or hesitation to enter it's world. It's impossible to say, "pressure is an opportunity to..." and still be afraid to fail, or over think the 'what-ifs.' Opportunity is power, which will ultimately lead to the result we desire.

In order for our mindset to shift, and be able to redefine pressure as our best friend, we must practice this every day. Every time we feel pressure, repeat our new definition. Our minds are a muscle... the harder we work them, the faster we'll achieve!

Pressure is an opportunity to...

Dayne is the owner of Coach Your Mind, where he trains all levels of athletes to maximize their mental and emotional skills during competition. He’s a former professional tennis player, who has been competing at elite levels his entire life. He was recruited to play Division I basketball out of high school, and became a scratch golfer in his 20’s.  While actively competing, he immediately recognized the mental game wasn’t being pursued as widely as the physical. His goal is to change this specific focus for athletes… helping them realize the mental game is a powerful weapon that, when balanced with the physical, will separate the great from the average.

Email Dayne: dgingo@cox.net

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