Mental toughness is a goal, the outcome of having a strong, positive mindset and a set of tools that can be used when things go wrong. Mental toughness confers the ability to overcome physical, emotional and mental low points and have the determination to carry on. It’s also the ability to hold steadfast to high levels of confidence, in your sport and in your ability.
‘Mental toughness’ is often confused with someone who pushes themselves to extremes, for example, someone who breaks a bone and carries on with the competition. That’s not what’s meant here. We want a bullet-proof mentality that we can lean on in tough times and continue to hold a positive attitude.
When you’re mentally tough, you have a strong psychological core that is part innate, part learnt and a toolkit that you can draw upon to maintain your focus and positivity. Interestingly, some sports people use set psychological, NLP and hypnotic techniques to keep their mental reserves topped up. Others are far luckier and use automatic skills that they have absorbed and garnered over the years.
For those of us that have had to learn elements of mental toughness and continue to top ourselves up, here are 5 means of achieving it and getting into that peak performance state.
- Get goals orientated – goals give motivation and drive. If you want to know a souped up, fun method for goal setting that works, see this video for step-by-step communication with the goal getter of your mind!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNwwwa1Pj7I&list=PLl4DWV_g3z4uC5G-AlkVuNtzOlH6-LP_h&index=7&t=5s
- Block out distractions. You can do this using one of the Pattern Interrupt methods in this short blog https://www.traceycolenlp.com/affirmations-and-why-they-dont-work-well/
- Control your level of ‘stress’. By stress I mean the level of your excitement, as well as nervousness. Psychologists call this your arousal level and it goes from pumped up to calm and quiet. Some sports demand greater energy: think of how a high jumper or long jumper gets the crowd behind them to raise their energy. Now think about archery and how their focus needs to be cool and calm. Top sports people can adjust their energy level for the task at hand.
I’m mostly asked with help to calm nerves, although the anxiety felt is simply the flipside of excitement. Both are physiological changes mediated by hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. In fact, it’s the same biochemistry for both, it’s out mind that interprets the feelings into being anxious or excited.
At other times, we need to be more excited, more adrenaline-fuelled. Have some energetic music on your phone, visualise success: see it hear it, feel it, taste it, smell it!
NLP and hypnosis are superb means of practising how to alter your mind’s interpretation of what’s happening in your body. https://www.traceycolenlp.com/boost-rider-confidence/
Time Line Therapy® (also known as Create Your Future ®) can help to release mental and physical energy bound up in holding onto old emotions.
- Maintain a healthy perfectionism. Perfectionists are detail-lovers. There is generally nothing wrong with attending to details. Top sports people know there is barely a difference between the talent and skills of another competitor and that minute changes can make someone a winner or a close second.
Adaptive perfectionism is demonstrated in people who have high standards and continue to look to improve. The drive behind this is a passion for what they do., a need and a want to enhance what they have.
Maldadaptive perfectionism is something quite different. This perfectionist has huge concerns over their past and current mistakes and potential mistakes. Being in this category is exhausting. It’s searching for and therefore, finding errors.
If you find yourself too much in the details, step back. Look at the bigger picture. All personal and sporting development can be seen as having peaks and troughs, yet it’s the average over time that counts. There may be bad days, weeks or even months, but zoom out of that microscope level and think telescopic. How far have you come?
Perfectionism means pressure. Here are ways to alleviate it https://www.traceycolenlp.com/how-to-release-the-pressure-you-put-on-yourself/
- Emotional mastery and resilience. These come from clearing away past negative emotions and limiting beliefs. It’s surprising how past issues and trauma may still be affecting us, years after we thought we’d dealt with them. Storing away memories that are charged with negative feelings takes up a lot of RAM in our mind!
Releasing old emotions – keeping the memories, but feeling more neutral about them – helps to unblock the circuitry and free up some energy that can be used in physical activity.
When you think about it, how can anyone perform at there best if their system is clogged up with energy-sapping negative emotions and limiting thoughts??
For more information, see https://www.traceycolenlp.com/emotional-resilience-can-come-from-time-line-therapy/
How do we then control our emotions in the present? That would be by using a set of techniques called anchoring. You can use one of these techniques: https://youtu.be/1jx0dsYg0TA or https://youtu.be/AEcaM4oapbs
To get mental toughness then, requires some mental independence. Luckily, this less expensive than physical training sessions and lessons!
Coaching sessions for mental strength, mental toughness and mindset means:
- You are intrinsically motivated – by goal setting
- You can work through distractions
- You control and finely balance your levels of arousal
- You know when details matter and when they are idiosyncratic and unnecessary
- You have mastered your emotions on past issues and can keep your emotions in check in the moment
If you’d like to know more, why not book a free no obligation chat? What have you got to lose? You can book in here https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=17991647&appointmentType=10738056
You can choose to book individual sessions or, if time is a constraint, why not book a whole day breakthrough to find out and eliminate all that holds you back?