Feed Your Belief

One of the most consistent myths athletes (and any of us) believe is that our performance in the moment is dictated by our thinking in the moment.

 This is an easy myth to confront. To prove this idea false, try this simple experiment:

Grab a seat and stay seated while you imagine a scenario. Vividly imagine yourself standing and walking out the nearest door/exit. See your motions in your mind (from your own eyes/perspective). Imagine how it feels to move your muscles. Imagine the sensations you feel as you walk and open the door or pass through the exit. When finished, read the rest of this post.

 Were you able to imagine walking out the door while you stayed seated? Of course you were. Your thoughts were conducting one action while your belief, a special type of thought, was insisting you perform a different action (in this case, the belief was that you would stay seated).

In my work, I’ve found two major reasons for buying into the myth that momentary thoughts dictate action. First, we tell athletes that’s the case. Second, we act according to our thoughts because we believe we must act according to our thoughts.

It’s not the thoughts that matter. It’s the belief. Performance comes from belief. If we believe thoughts will dictate action, they will tend to. If we believe with a deep understanding that momentary thoughts can vary while a deeper trust in our actions reigns supreme, then we can take action based on trust without wasting a second worrying about the normal variations we experience in momentary thoughts, such as those thoughts that encourage confidence or doubt.

 As I noted above, beliefs are special types of thoughts. While weak momentary thoughts are subject to swaying with the breezes of our moods – the instances of optimism/pessimism, can do/can’t do, possibility/impossibility – beliefs are hardy and withstand fluctuations in mood. Think about some of your deepest beliefs, such as the world being round. Is that belief subject to your mood? Or will you always endorse the idea that the world is round no matter how low your mood?

The same type of deep trusting belief is possible for performance. You simply have to feed that belief. As you move through life, you can verify this again and again through consistent performance that defies doubt and dips in your mood.

Trust in your ability. Practice to improve. Believe in yourself. Believe in your mind over matter existence that transcends momentary thoughts. This is the path to breakthrough performance and making the play under any conditions, including those of your own momentary thoughts.

The Mood Roller Coaster

I have yet to run into someone who doesn’t admit to an up and down pattern in their moods. Yes, some people are typically up, and others are typically down. Some of us have very steep up and downs. Others have more gently rolling ups and downs. Others have a mix depending on where we are in the ride.But nobody has ever told me that they are in the same mood all the time. We all ride some type of mood roller coaster.

Here is a key to understanding our moods and this ride we are on. We often think of moods as feelings, but I find it is more accurate to think of moods as a characteristic of thought. Moods are highly linked to our thought capabilities.

Think of it this way: We feel our thoughts, and when we are feeling our moods, we are feeling an indicator of whether our thoughts are up or down.

Like the high position on a roller coaster, up moods are characterized by a high perspective, being able to see more.

As we plunge, our focus is more and more narrow, more stuck on the low point in front of us.

As indicators of our thinking, up moods are characterized by more openness, can do thinking, confidence, security. Down moods are characterized by more narrow-mindedness, can’t do thinking, doubts, insecurity.

Rather than seeing our thoughts and feelings as something we catch from the outside world, think of them as characteristics that ebb and flow naturally within us. We then project them into the outside world based on our position on the mood roller coaster.

States like passion, tenacity, enthusiasm, and happiness aren’t things we catch from the outside world. They are lights we shine upon it while we are up.

Anger, frustration, and irritation aren’t feelings the outside world forces upon us. They are projectiles we hurl at it from a low mood.

This ebb and flow of moods is very natural, and one thing that seems to provide most people comfort in their low points is to remember that no matter how low we sink, the ride always rises again.