Mental Training Athletes: Labeling Emotions
We all have emotions, this is part of the shared human condition. Often we try to avoid having certain emotions or try to get rid of them. Seeing them as negative or will negatively impact our performance. Our emotions are good, and are simply an indicator of something, whether that be that we care, we are worried or want to do well. The emotion itself is not a problem, how we handle the emotion is generally what can create something we don't want.
When I work with my clients, talking about emotions always comes up. We look at their framework around an emotion, what they do when an emotion(s) comes up around a competition. One of the biggest things we talk about is the importance of acknowledging and labeling the emotion(s) they have. This one thing, can make a huge impact. It helps to defuse the emotion. The aim is not to get rid of it, it is to simple say I feel nervous or I feel scared or I feel excited. To accept and acknowledge what is, is hard, and many individuals when I first bring this up need to reframe things. They often worry by acknowledging and labeling the emotion and bringing attention to it will make things worse. This is why people often try to get rid of an emotion.
When we try to get rid of an emotion we make it stronger and actually bring more attention to it, by trying to fight it. If you are feeling nervous, and you bring attention to it, label it, and realize you feel this way because you care about what is about to happen, you are addressing it head on. Now, after you have labeled it, you can focus on what you can do to be at your best. You can perform while feeling an emotion. If we handle the emotion in this way, we can then shift our focus to task oriented aspects that we can control.
Acknowledging and labeling an emotion does not mean we get stuck there and just think of how we feel. We address it, and then shift our focus to what we can do in the moment. To our process or system that is in place to help us be at our best. To focus on behaviors, effort, attitude, and thoughts.
So next time you are in a situation where you are starting to feel something, try acknowledging what you feel and label it.
To your success,
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Kate Allgood Masters Sport Psychology (with distinction) Masters General Psychology (with distinction) Sports Hypnosis Certification Mindfulness Certification
TAIS Assessment Certified