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Your Competition isn’t Other People:

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Your competition isn't other people. You need to learn how to beat and control your mind before you can win against someone else. Your mind must be stronger than your feelings.

We all have our own unique individual talent, knowledge, and skills that have developed over our lifetimes, yet many still compare themselves against others. Ever wondered why?

There is a saying that has done the tracks on social media for years - Your competition isn't other people; it is only yourself and where you were yesterday.

Usually, people in more advanced positions that constantly compare themselves to others have underlying trauma issues they allow negative and unhealthy thoughts to come into their mind and damage their confidence and attitude.

This is a curse and a vicious cycle.

Athletes are no different. successful and resilient athletes, however, focus on themselves and what they can control.

Typically, athletes don't achieve their goals for a variety of external reasons. However below are 7 common sabotage behaviours that athletes face.

· Your competition is your procrastination.

· Your ego

· Your unhealthy food your consuming

· The knowledge you neglect.

· The negative behaviour you're nurturing.

· Your excuses

· Your lack of creativity to achieve your goals.

Compete against that!

The saying "don't compare your behind the scenes to everyone else's highlight reel" speaks true and must be remembered by athletes and coaches alike.

Focus on improving yourself, and doing things that you don't like doing, and take each day as it comes, putting one foot in front of the other until you're at your targeted destination. Do the work daily and focus on the process.

Many athletes have moments or days when they are highly motivated - when they decide to commit to seeing a dream come true. Other days, fear takes hold, and self-doubt and fear of failure take over.

Champions overcome these emotions and thoughts.

These deep desires to make something happen are known as intentions. Our positive intentions are a combination of dreams and the plan that sets them in motion. They are powerful.

Goal-setting theory plays a vital role in this journey.

We work with many athletes in unblocking and removing barriers so that they can become mentally stronger and develop interventions when toxic thoughts or barriers paralyse them.

Intentions can be very personal and rise out of strong desires. This is how having a plan and having an intention can be different. Most athletes know on an intellectual level to make plans to practice or make plans to reach goals. But intentions run deeper; they are strong personal desires to make something happen.

You might define intention as Plan + Energy. This great combination is often associated with a commitment to see the plan through. At Athlete IQ we talk about Preparation + Persistence = Performance.

The preparation is the plan, the persistence is the energy. Performance is the outcome.

Focus on the process but have a clear destination and know where you want to go.

Intentions and Goal Setting

If you have trouble with any of the 7 self-sabotaging behaviours listed above, there are certain interventions and therapy styles that can aid in the shift in behaviour. The first basic principle is being clear with your intentions. Simply writing your goals and intentions down - can help with reaching longer-term sports goals as it will provide real clarity with what needs to change and what you are doing well presently to achieve your dream.

Envisage competing at your state high school basketball tournament as a 16-year-old. Your team finishes 6th. Your team loved the journey in making it to the state tournament but with a disappointing result, the team decides that they want to do even better next year. So, collectively as a team, together you make a personal intention to return the following year as better basketballers and win. This can be in an individual setting too. You set state an intention to be back and do what is required to become better. Combining intention with commitment and planning and using the emotion and disappointment to fuel your desire will propel you and your team to attain your goals. This intention fuels focus, it drives clarity in the process, it creates purpose. The 'purpose' acts as a performance enhancer.

Another way of looking at it is through mindfulness. Occasionally intentions assist with short term goals by providing another sense of focus, known as 'getting in the zone'.

Yoga and meditation practitioners often tell their students/clientele to set an intention at the beginning of class. They instruct clients to breathe and begin to practice clearing the mind to promote relaxation and 'flow'

The mind in this instance wants to drift. For example, when poses get difficult or fatigue (physically and mentally) sets in the teacher may remind students to recall and think about their intention and let that word or image help build momentum again. This is the power of self-imagery, self-talk, and the of use visualisation at its core. It stems from an intention.

The intention declutters the mind, it simplifies process and aids in relaxation. It helps students to stay motivated and complete the task with efficiency and clarity. It stimulates one to focus on process, not outcomes.

Face the Reality of Your Self Sabotage:

Being self-aware is the first step in behaviour change. As an athlete, if you desire to change in your mindset, facing reality is the starting point.

Intending to become mentally tough and resilient, a perspective you may want to consider is through Victor Frankl.

He talks about mindsets in concentration camps. The conditions in the camps were not going to get better and that the only group with survival rates worse than pessimists were the optimists. Neither sees reality. Both distort reality. The pessimists were dead in one week, optimists were dead in one month. The reality was though, that death was upon them. How one looked at it made a difference in when that was going to be.

You see, we as humans are wired to have a natural tendency to claim credit for gains and blame bad luck for losses. We hide behind shame, guilt, and other various feelings. For example, we win a bet on a horse race – we attribute the win from our supreme knowledge of horses and racetrack conditions. If we lose a bet on a basketball game – we attribute it to a lucky goal against the run of play. We find an excuse. We hide behind something not to expose our true self nor the reality of the situation.

Regardless of both cases, we distort reality. This distortion means that we cannot learn effectively from experience. Therefore, to learn effectively to make changes - it starts from within. It starts with investigation and education. It's so hard to change. It requires a level of discipline on another level and consistent practice to maintain an emotional state that allows us to act positively after a loss, and to learn how to improve ourselves for the next time. Again - It's so hard to consistently do this. It's so hard to control our emotions.

All emotion is a distortion of reality and a distortion of expectations.

For example, in tennis, if I expect to make a second serve and miss it, the emotion is disappointment and frustration. If I remove the expectation and miss it, I have the reality. I can move on in a non-emotional state that has distorted reality.

Focus on improving yourself, by doin h heo,\ and taking each day as it comes, putting one foot in front of the other until you're at your taination. Do the work daily and focus on the process.

The same can be said in Sports.

The number one challenge to an athlete is removing Self-Delusion.

Many athletes are delusional about their qualities as a competitor and as a person.

This is the teaching challenge – many athletes do not believe that they have poor behaviours around integrity, authenticity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion.

How do you get people to realise that they are not as good as they think they are? (How to get them to listen to direct reports and teammates and coaches' feedback?)

Mental Strength programs at Athlete IQ exposes the athlete to the nuance and difficulties surrounding developing resilience, managing expectations, and handling emotions.

Work with our team of expert practitioners. Consultations can be done virtually, anytime, anywhere.

"You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy"


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