Mental Moment-growing up you don’t learn this

 In Coaches, Healthy Lifestyles, Professional & Olympic Athletes

EmotionsAll of my clients are struggling at some level with something that is mental or emotional. The ramifications range from, for example, an Olympian not feeling the amount of confidence she needs to perform to a business exec not having the amount of confidence to get up in front of people to give a presentation. Both people have a level of discomfort with where they are at and both have not had the opportunity to actually think about having or not having enough confidence until one day they woke up and realized that something was not quite right; something was missing.

The problem and challenge is that you didn’t grow up learning to directly deal with mental states or emotions. You don’t learn to be confident, motivated and focused. Sure you got some of it from your environment but therein lies the challenge; you get some of it (sort of; maybe) from your environment although some of it is not positive, it’s negative. You get it, but you don’t really know it or understand it, and it may be positive but more than likely negative. Hm! That sounds like a huge challenge, doesn’t it? And that’s just the mental side of it. Emotions are hardly ever talked about in family systems. Sad, mad, anxious, angry, etc. huh? Even when I hear clients talk about emotions the language is very limited and it’s usually negative. Again, what a huge challenge.When elite performers have to perform they are not only taking their physical body into performance situations but they are taking (potentially) a mess of tangled mental states and emotions with them with no understand of what they are, how they interact and the ramifications. Yikes!

I have several youth in my practice and I tell them: you haven’t learn to be confident, stay focused or how to deal with anxiety. In order to be a good performer now you have to learn how to deal with those things. Your coach or teacher help with the physical side and I help with the mental & emotional side. Kids get it but change is difficult because the environment stays the same. These are kids who have very conscientious families. Families who want them to succeed but who have to think very differently about the support they give their kids in order for change to occur and struggle to do that in the context of the family system. Although I do some work with Mom & Dad I actually think I should be doing more work with Mom & Dad. I sometimes think that parenting classes for performers is a way to go. Parents are doing what they learned growing up and some of it is really great but they, themselves probably didn’t directly learn much about mental states or emotions. Directly translating mental states and emotions for kids in general is hard and even more difficult when it all collides and impacts performance.

If you have kids, now is the time to talk about and learn to help them deal with these challenges. We can all try to avoid mental states and emotions; for ourselves and our kids but it will come back to bite us in the butt!

Happy week!

Dr. Michelle

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

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