What happens if you get to your competition and your coach can’t make it? What if you don’t even get to the competition on time because the car breaks down or gets stuck in traffic? What if you fall at the beginning of your programme? What if… it all goes horribly wrong…?
That’s the mindset that lots of people (the worry-warts) get stuck with. They worry and fret over every little thing that could possibly go wrong. And you know what? There’s every likelihood that it will. Because if you are looking for things that aren’t right, if you’re looking for the negative in everything, then sure as eggs is eggs that’s what you’ll find.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve worried with the best of them (Shhhh! for goodness sake don’t ask my daughter about this or she’ll roll her eyes and regale you with tales of the yesteryear me. The worrywart. Little Mum Negative.) I grew up in a “what if” household you see. What if this or that should go wrong? My dad worked in the insurance industry and – well that’s what they do ALL DAY LONG. They worry. They wonder how likely it is that something might go wrong – so they can calculate how much to charge you to insure something against the likelihood of it going wrong. Still with me?
But it so happens that after studying NLP (that’s Neuro Linguistic Programming) I magically became a “glass half full” kind of person. Not quite a Pollyanna, but definitely much more positive. And that’s what I love about NLP. It’s ALL about positivity – understanding how the negative words you use to talk to yourself are what’s making those things happen. We believe the stuff we tell ourselves in our heads. So what if we told ourselves something positive instead? Rather than “I just can’t do this jump!” – how would it be if you said to yourself “I can do this jump. I’ve done it before. I can do it again!”
Have you ever wondered why it is that you seemed to have so much confidence when you were very small, and then suddenly it all vanished. Probably about the same time as you started secondary school I’d guess. The thing is – very young children don’t yet have that file in their heads called “All the things that could go wrong”. So they tend to have more fun and leave the worrying to the older kids and grown ups.
Well once you have that file in your head, what can you do about it? If all those things are potentially going to go wrong, how on earth can you stay positive? It’s at times like these you need a way of maintaining your calm and keeping your cool. Because these things are not within your control – there is NOTHING you can do about them. But – you CAN control how you react to them.
If you allow yourself to get all stressy and worried and nervous then your brain sends a lethal cocktail of chemicals around your body in a bid to combat that bear it thinks is lurking outside your cave. What?! Yup – it is taking you right back to caveman times and sending round the chemicals to ‘protect’ you. But in the 21st Century, when you’re trying to glide and twirl smoothly on the ice, the same chemicals sure aren’t much help. They make you stiff. They thicken the blood, they give you a headache and your IQ drops so you can’t even think straight. Frankly that’s the last thing you need at a competition, right?
Once the stress chemicals start swishing round – there are two ways you can combat them – through relaxation (meditate, rest, listen to your favourite music) or through gentle exercise (go for a stroll with the dog or take a run round the block.) It only takes 20 minutes or so for your chosen antidote to take effect. And start talking to yourself in the positive. What would your best friend say to you? What would your skating idol do in your position?
Instead of wondering what if it goes wrong – ask yourself what if it goes right? And open yourself up to a million wonderful possibilities.