Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Self-Esteem

When Tiger Woods was going through his difficulty regarding his extra-marital affairs, former NFL running back Eddie George, when asked what percentage of NFL players, in his opinion, we’re having extra-marital affairs, he replied: Ninety Per Cent. If this is true, that means 90% of all NFL players are living a lie and are not performing anywhere near their skill levels. And this lie will show up in the form of fumbles, dropped passes, and missed blocks, not to mention excessive penalties. And I feel confident the percentage of NBA players is probably similar. When athletes and coaches “withhold” about having extra-marital affairs, it’s definitely lying, and it’s this lying that demeans them and lowers their feelings of self-worth creating psychological baggage that affects their ability to focus and process information. When coaches are having extra-marital affairs, it will show up in how they interact with their team members. They are generally short tempered because they have anger that is often “misdirected,” they take fewer risks when making coaching decisions, and if they make an error in judgment, they will make excuses and not accept responsibility because they fear the consequences of their being honest, such as: being fired. These coaches will often experience stress which they’ve created for themselves, and in many instances it will show up in the form of a life-threatening illness.

Dr. Dean Ornish, one of the country’s leading authorities on the treatment of heart disease, wrote: “The mystics say what happens in your mind creates what happens around you. ‘As You Think, So You Become.’ What you think about intensely is what you begin to manifest in your life. What you meditate on or visualize tends to become actualized.” Dr. Ornish is correct. However, it’s possible to actualize negative events in your life if you have a low sense inner-self. For example, if you are an athlete with unresolved issues and are keeping your feelings bottled-up, you are lowering your self-esteem. Unless course corrections are made you will begin to develop a negative belief system, generating negative thoughts and negative events will begin to happen in your life. And you can be sure this will affect your performance in your sport. Some sport psychologists (and also Nike) would have you believe that you can “just do it” – replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. My experience is that negative thoughts cannot be eliminated unless you attack their source. Even the late Earl Nightingale, in his book Earl Nightingale’s Greatest Discovery wrote: “We become what we think about.” But unfortunately, he – like so many others before him – believed that by simply changing your thoughts you could easily change your life. But there is no such thing as a “quick fix.” That’s why so many professional athletes who have been through months of therapy and counseling eventually find their game elevated to a new level.

A number of years ago, the late Dr. Carl Simonton (who first identified the mind-body connection) came up with the discovery of what he called the Surveillance Mechanism Theory as related to the detection and treatment of cancer. Simply stated, the SMT maintains that we all have cancer cells in our bodies but that our immune systems are constantly gobbling them up Pac-Man style. However, when we encounter stress in our lives our bodies give off hormones that impair our immune systems, allowing the cancer cells to multiply at a rate faster than they can be devoured. This appears to be the case involving former Penn State Coach Joe Paterno who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer.

From my perspective, and most physicians will agree, there’s a correlation between high self-esteem and wellness and low self-esteem and illness.

When I lived in Kansas City, Missouri in the late 1980s, I volunteered my services at the RA Bloch Cancer Support Center. On various Sunday mornings, with the encouragement of co-founder Richard Bloch, I would meet with newly diagnosed cancer patients in a support group environment. At the outset I would explain to them that even though they had been diagnosed as having cancer, that was not their primary problem. Their primary problem was that each had a suppressed (or impaired) immune system and that we were going to focus on their immune systems and participate in exercises designed to enhance their immune systems. Since research has shown that the most conspicuous characteristic of cancer patients is bottled up emotions I would have everyone sit in a circle and each person would tell his or her own story about stress in their lives. Each would interact with others and bring their emotions to the surface. Once they began talking about their issues, many for the first time, they experienced an increase in self-esteem resulting in an enhanced immune system. At that point they were then introduced to the use of a visualization technique where they would “see” their own healthy t-cells attacking their cancer cells. This exercise was accompanied by Patti LaBelle’s recording of “New Attitude.”

So based on the above, my recommendation to Coach Paterno would be that he either involve himself in a support group or seek the services of a psychotherapist who could help him through this difficult period in his life.

One last point: What I have recommended should only be considered as a supplemental program. It should not replace any treatment prescribed by a physician or oncologist.

The Psycho Self-Imagery process involves having a high sense of inner self, resolving conflict in your life, not suppressing feelings, bringing personal and team-related issues to completion, being highly spiritual, helping others less fortunate than yourself and having your life in harmony. Then visualizing yourself being successful and actually creating positive events in your life, on and off the field of competition.
But when you have conflict in your life, when you have a low sense of inner self, when you are suppressing your feelings, when you have personal and team-related issues that you haven’t brought to completion, when you are not helping others less fortunate than yourself and when your life is in disharmony, you will actually create negative events in your life, on and off the field of competition.

N. V. I.
National Visualization Institute

Learn how to visualize, resulting in increased performance.

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