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How you see it – is your reality

8 November 2016 One Comment

They say, it’s not what happens to you in life, it’s how you react to it that matters.  When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. There are so many famous quotes regarding how we handle set backs, but very little information on how to actually “turn the switch” back from despair, back to happiness.

It’s unrealistic to expect to be gloriously happy all day, every day, especially on the day we race our Ironman. We all have ups and downs, highs and lows. It’s worth developing the skill of monitoring where we are on the joy and pleasure scale.

Imagine a scale from one to ten, where a one is the feeling you get when you get pulled over by the police for some traffic infringement, on a day when you’re running late for an important appointment because you couldn’t find your car keys.

Imagine a ten on the scale to be achieving success in a goal which you’ve worked at for a couple of years, at a time when you’re in love with someone special, and it’s a beautiful spring day with birds singing and flowers everywhere.

Now we rarely spend a lot of time at either end of this scale, we could insert our own one or ten scenarios in here, but the fact is most of us are lucky enough to not spend too much time at the bottom end of the scale. There are some sad people who unconsciously see themselves as unfortunate, and do see the dark side of most situations.

To be successful at long endurance events we benefit from being aware of where we are on our own scale each day. I suggest to athletes to chart their moods, or their feelings over a month or so on a calendar, to simply raise awareness. It’s worth doing this little exercise to see if a pattern develops. Become aware of the moon’s cycle and how it relates to the mood pattern.

It’s a well documented fact that disturbing psychiatric events are more prevalent on full moons. Police record more “crazy” things happening at this stage of the moon. So it appears there is some correlation between the moon’s gravitational influence and the moods and feelings of animals and humans.

We accept that there is a variation from day to day, and even through each day. One simple step that can change the level of anxiety we feel, is start 10min earlier. No matter what we’re about to do in our day, start 10min earlier than we would normally have. Running late is one of the worst things to raise anxiety. Some people are never on time, often they live a life of being stressed every day.

We all start each day with 1,440 minutes, we all have the same number, if running late for an appointment causes stress, set your alarm ten minutes earlier. Missing ten minutes of sleep will cause far less health problems than the stress caused by the daily rush. Stress kills, the hormonal changes caused by stress are significant, and are proven to cause all sorts of health problems.

When we become skilled at recognising the factors which influence our moods, the obvious next step is to introduce strategies to move our mood up the scale when it’s too low. Great performances come when moods are stable and on the higher end of our scale. Whether they’re sporting performances, or on the job performances, moral is critical to performance.

One of the most effective strategies for raising moral/mood levels is bring thoughts back into the now. That’s focusing on  doing what we do as well as we can do it. Whether it’s counting strokes in the swim, counting revs on the bike or steps on the run, the important thing is that thoughts are not too far in the future, or back in the past. Leave the past behind, we can’t change it, the only option open to us is to create a better future.

The skill of being totally “in the moment” is a skill which can be developed. It takes a little practice, but the time spent practising this skill is an investment in mood control.

In every situation we confront we have two options, we can look at what can go wrong, what has gone wrong, and how we’re affected by it. Or when confronted by the exact same situation, we can look at what’s the best way out of this. There’s absolutely nothing to be gained by thinking why me?

If we can switch from seeing obstacles or setbacks as roadblocks, to seeing them as challenges, little problems to solve. Some of us enjoy solving problems. In fact many of us who have been attracted to this sport are excited by the opportunity to problem solve.

So a mood which we would rate as low on our scale of one to ten, is nothing more than a “problem to solve”. Searching for the solution to this “problem mood”, can be as simple as changing pace. Changing to a harder gear and jumping out of the saddle for 100m, or on the run it can be as simple as increasing leg turnover rate to the next power pole.

It’s amazing what you can pull out, when your emotions are telling you that “it’s all over”. Keep in mind it’s your mind “telling your body that it’s tired”, get the mind right and the body will respond.



One Comment »

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    How you see it – is your reality | ALLAN PITMAN TRIATHLON COACHING

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