Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Psychotherapy

I just finished watching the movie “Concussion” about the work of Nigerian-born pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu and his theory of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. It was something new in the world of sports and met with an enormous amount of opposition, especially by the National Football League. For the past thirty years I’ve been attempting to convey a new idea regarding sports performance enhancement and have met with a great deal of opposition. Most people, when I tell them about my theory, just say they’ve never given the idea much thought but did see my point of view, although it’s almost impossible to prove. And therein lies the problem. The research is only anecdotal. Not scientific.

If you read any sports page in America you’ll find the focus on what the winning team did in order to win and the success they had in order to win the game. In other words, all the things they did that were right. The emphasis is always on the positive aspects of competition and very little attention is given the negative mainly because no one really knows what goes on behind the scenes in the personal lives of athletes.

For example, there’s not much you can say about why, in a basketball game, a three point shooter suddenly makes only 1 for 12 three point shots when he normally hits 5 for 12. Or why a football running back fumbles the ball twice in a game or a wide-receiver drops three passes that hit him right on the numbers. Or how a baseball team played poorly because there was some issue that created negativity in the locker room such as a fight between two players, resulting in poor team chemistry.

I’m a firm bIeliever that what goes on away from the field of competition affects what takes place on the field of competition. Compassionate coaches who are highly successful understand this but there are a lot of coaches out there who still don’t get it. They have their teams “visualize” success but don’t understand that in order for visualization to be effective there must be a fusing of psychotherapy with visualization.


“Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will but remember, it didn’t work for the rabbit.” R. E. Shay

There is no such thing as luck. Good or bad. Yet how often we’ve heard others comment about another person’s good fortune saying “Wow, he (or she) is really lucky.” But the fact of the matter is that we create what happens to us in or lives, both good and bad, based on our own feelings of self-worth (our inner-self) and whether or not our lives are in harmony.

The exceptions are if we are walking down a road and a tree falls on us, or if a loved one passes away.  We do not create those events in our lives but rather, we “surrender” to them.

However, people who were fortunate enough to be born into a family where there was much love and nurturing have the basic foundation that is so important when they travel their life’s road, because self-esteem is the foundation for all human behavior. We act, or refuse to act, based on how we feel about ourselves. We take risks, or don’t take risks, based on how we feel about ourselves.

People with a high sense of self-worth are the same people who are successful, healthy and happy. But those who were unfortunate enough to be born into a dysfunctional family where there was very little love and affection are the same people who experience great hardship in their lives and are generally unhappy and unhealthy. This often reveals itself in the form of obesity, heavy drinking, heavy smoking, misdirected anger and poor eye contact. And these are the people who are uncomfortable being happy. When they find themselves experiencing happiness they will often do something disruptive to negatively affect a relationship.

But it’s important to remember, however, that even if you might have been born into a dysfunctional family environment, your life can change dramatically when you encounter a partner or someone in your life who loves you unconditionally. It could be a professor, a teacher, a coach, a close friend or a spouse. Especially, a spouse or a significant other.  Or it could come about as a result of intense counseling and therapy.

We see things as we are. Not as they are, but as we are. People who have a high sense of inner-self see their world from a different perspective than those with a low sense of inner-self. They see the glass half-full rather than half-empty. And because of their positive attitude, they create positive events in their lives. But you can’t fake this and say, “I’m going to start being more positive.” Either you are, or you’re not.

And it’s important to remember that people reflect us. If we want to know how we’re showing up in the world, all we have to do is look at those around us. There’s a famous Hebrew proverb that says: “Liars believe everyone around them are lying.”

I’m reminded of an old Hassidic tale where a couple moves into a new village and asks the local rabbi: “Rabbi, what are the people like in this village?” And the rabbi says: “Before I answer that question, tell me what the people were like in the village you just moved from.” And they reply: “Oh, they were very nasty and backbiting and told lies about us behind our backs.” And the rabbi thoughtfully strokes his large black beard and responds: “Well, I think you’ll find the people here in this village about the same.” The next day, another couple moves into the same village and they too visit the rabbi and ask: “Rabbi, what are the people like here in this village?” And he says: “Before I answer tell me what the people were like in the village you just moved from.” And they say: “Oh, the people there were very nice and very loving, they were always helpful and treated us wonderfully.” And once again the rabbi strokes his beard and responds: “I think you’ll find the people here in this village about the same.”

I’ve had numerous conversations with others who look forward to growing old but only if they are in good health. They act as if there is some outside power that’s going to help them be healthy, as though it’s in the hands of providence, not realizing that the life-style they create for themselves when they are younger shows up when they are older. If someone thirty begins a program of physical fitness and doesn’t abuse alcohol or drugs, they will be healthy as they reach old age. But those who mistreat their bodies and abuse drugs and alcohol are destined to be in ill health later in life. Assuming they live that long. That’s why professional counseling can be so important. Especially support groups.

N. V. I.
National Visualization Institute

Learn how to visualize, resulting in increased performance.

PHONE: 417-773-2695

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