So, now that we’ve discussed, at length, how to make things happen, let’s talk about how to keep them from happening, or, rather, how to keep yourself from allowing them to happen. Doing the impossible requires a vast amount of concentration, but, then again, so does keeping them from happening.
Whenever you’re about to do something important, like performing in front of people, the worst thing you can do is get into your own head and overthink whatever it is you’re about to do. As an athlete, I know all too well how letting your nerves get the best of you can hinder your ability to do things that are second nature to you.
People who go out in front others have devoted countless hours to practice before they ever step out onto the field, stage, or wherever their performance is taking place. They know exactly how to do what they are about to attempt, it has become what’s known as muscle memory, yet some of them choke. Why?
Psychology of the Impossible
They begin thinking about all of the people who will be staring at them, what might happen if they mess up, and all of the things that could go wrong. This is effectively one of the best ways to make something impossible for yourself, and no one but you can possibly pull yourself out of this pit of anxiety.
Another perfect way to make something impossible is to not focus on the present moment.All throughout school, I was a football player and a wrestler. I went out onto the field or mat, and played or wrestled with some of the best athletes in the entire State of Washington. My senior year I walked all over my opponents.
I don’t say this to brag, but to illustrate how things can become possible that might appear impossible. And now, allow me to illustrate the opposite, as well. I was an excellent athlete, yet when I stepped out onto the wrestling mat, as opposed to the football field, my nerves often got the best of me.
At one of our home matches, my junior year I think it was, I went out under the lights and faced an opponent I knew I could beat. I could see it in the way he walked, knew that he knew I was the better wrestler. Again, not to brag, but to let you in on my story. Anyway, knowing full well that I was the better athlete, I still let my nerves get the best of me and barely won the match.
At the end of a six minute bout, we had just gone out of bounds and were told by the referee to go back into the middle of the mat to reset. As I looked up to the clock, there were eight seconds left of the match and I was down by one point. An escape would only get me one point, pushing the match into overtime.
That was not an option. I was a far superior wrestler, and had to prove it to myself and everyone watching! As the ref blew the whistle, I quickly and effortlessly got out from under my opponent, and took control from the top position, scoring two points and winning the match.
So, why was this so easy, when the whole match had been a struggle? Because I got my head out of the way, and let my body do the work I knew it could do. When I got down onto the mat that last time, preparing to win, there was nothing holding me back, I was free from my anxiety.
Focus on the Present Moment
Now, let me tell you about the state championship tournament my senior year. I had just won the regional tournament, and was about to wrestle the fourth place athlete from another region. I had it in the bag. In fact, I wasn’t even thinking of the match, knowing full well I was about to win…or so I thought.
As my opponent and I stepped out onto the mat, the ref blew the whistle, and, before I knew it, I was on the mat, losing points, and very quickly the match. What happened? Why did I lose in the FIRST ROUND, when I should have won? Because I was not focused on the present moment.
As we stepped out onto the mat, I was thinking about the final match I was supposed to be in, the championship bout I was sure I as going to win. Yet, here I was, losing the first match of a two day tournament, when I should have made it all the way to the end. I was not prepared for a real match, so “sure” that I had it in the bag, already.
Now, there were other factors as to why I lost that particular match, but the main reason was because I was not in the present moment, and again, lost in my head, instead of allowing myself to perform the way I had practiced an entire decade to do.
Making the Impossible Possible
So, how do you make the impossible possible, instead? Well, for a full explanation, you can go back and read my two posts on the subject, but I’ll finish with a quick synopsis, if you’re don’t have the time to do so.
Its called flow. Allow your mind to focus so deeply on the present moment that there is no room for anything else. It really is about surrendering to the moment, instead of trying to force yourself to remember everything you learned. Breathe and, as those at Nike would say, “Just do it!”
For anyone interested in learning the strategies of living up to your highest potential and allowing yourself to perform on another level, click here to schedule a free consultation, and we will talk more about how you can overcome your fears and anxieties.