What Thoughts Hold You Back from Success?
Identifying Limiting Thought Patterns…..Try it During Times of Change
Ever had a coach tell you you’re perfectly capable of mastering a new move, but your mind says you can't? Or, ever had a practice where, physically everything was fine, but mentally you kept telling yourself you felt tired, insecure, or nervous?
We’ve all engaged in negative self-talk and believing the limits we've placed on ourselves, whether true or untrue. But do we really know when we're doing it? Do we even realize when our thoughts hold us back? I bet for many of you, you have thoughts - both positive and negative - that are so engrained in your mind you don’t even realize you’re thinking them.
I know I was definitely affected by thinking limited thoughts when I competed. I was an ice dancer and a I remember thinking I would never get through my free dance, or long program, every time my coach asked for a run through at practice. That thought by itself might not seem all that bad, but if you think it everyday like I did....well, let's just my free dance became something I couldn't complete. By repeating that limiting thought enough times, I convinced myself that I definitely could not get through my free dance without mistakes. While the reality might have been entirely different, my limiting belief held me back from being able to achieve my goal.
In truth, did I have the physical capability to complete my program? Yes.
Did I pull it off when I needed to at competition? Yes.
Was it exhausting to train this way? Absolutely.
Like many athletes, I didn't realize I had so many limiting beliefs until I was done competing. I was too busy trying to get through each practice and competition to stop and reflect on my thoughts and the impact they had on my skating. Had I taken the time to identify limiting thought patterns as a competitor. it might have changed my entire skating experience.
Over the years I’ve found that it’s easier to identify limiting beliefs during times of change, such as the start of a new season or school year. It seems all your senses are heightened when you’re trying something new and your thoughts are no exception. The next time you start a new season or join a new team pay attention to what you’re thinking before, during, and after each practice and game. For example, if you’re used to getting ample playing time on your old team and you don’t play in the first game with your new team, what immediately goes through your mind? Pay attention to the thoughts you have and the meaning you attach to them. You can learn a lot about your fears and assumptions by analyzing the meaning you attach to automatic thoughts.
Remember that everyone, even the greatest athletes, experience self-doubt and think limiting thoughts. What matters is how you manage them. Start with just identifying what thoughts place limits on your ability to succeed. From there, notice what triggers these thoughts. Was it a bad practice? A comment made by a teammate? Make a list of all the times you notice a limiting thought. Chances are you’ll find a pattern to your triggers. Finding the meaning behind thoughts takes more time and practice and is best done with the help of a mental skills coach or sports psychologist. Be sure to check back with GOLD for articles on this topic.