When an athlete is faced with adversity, the first thing that happens is self-doubt. As adversity continues to pile on, the power of positive thinking (aka glass-half-full mindset) can dwindle away in your mind and come across as unimportant. It’s difficult to have a positive mindset because doing so requires you to have to make a conscious effort to control your emotions and channel your energy.
Sometimes, positive thinking comes across as hope or wishful thinking.
So why is it so hard to harness the power of positive thinking and make it work for you?
Well, the absolute reason why is because we look at the world through an honest and objective perspective. It’s hard as an athlete to go through adversity and trick our minds into positive thinking because sometimes it feels like we’re lying to ourselves. Identifying threats to our well-being, such as adversity and challenges (even in sports) is hardwired in our DNA. Situational awareness has been around since the beginning of humankind and is vital to our immediate survival – no matter how small or trivial the task may be.
Today, that situational awareness survival trait still lives in us. However, that survival skill has taken on other forms in today’s modern society. Entrepreneurs face it when trying to make their business survive when starting off, and athletes face it everyday when they continually fail at practices and games. When you allow the threat of pessimism to enter your mind as an athlete – such as imagining you’re wasting your time because you’ve been practicing your tail off and nobody notices – you’re leaving yourself in a negative mental state that diminishes not only your performance, but your overall outlook on life.
The Power of Positive Thinking Improves Your Performance
The power of positive thinking is beneficial because its vital to your performance on the field. There are countless studies out there that link optimistic thinkers to being high performers. Simply put, the best don’t get to the top when they think that nobody cares about what they’re doing and they suck.
Optimistic athletes harness the power of positive thinking and treat any failures or adversity as a learning experience. They believe that they can perform better and improve their skills to handle any task that comes their way.
That’s great, but – How do you overcome adversity?…
Well, what it means is that you need to change your mindset when things get tough. You need to understand that whenever you face adversity, its not the end of the world – its just your current benchmark. You need to tell yourself that your setbacks or limits are not what define you. Through purposeful practice and the discipline to stay focused, you will continue fail through your benchmark so that you can improve your ability.
That’s all it is. You discipline and mentality to not give up or give in is what will create your freedom later in life. That little voice in your head that’s telling you to stop or quit – just tell it to take a seat and shut up. That’s what will put you in a growth mindset and understand that failure is a part of growth.
Follow these two steps to use the power of positive thinking:
1. Separate The Truth From Fiction
Like it was said before, the first thing you need to do is tell that little voice in your head that’s telling you to quit to shut up. Right when it decides to pipe up and voice it’s opinion, you need to tell it to take a seat. Instead of wallowing in your own self-pity, you just need to understand one simple thing: Negative thoughts are exactly what they are – thoughts.
Negative thoughts aren’t facts. Facts don’t care about feelings. Facts are cut and dry, and when you find yourself looking for a negative underlying message, you’re just putting yourself in a terrible, fixed mindset. When the next negative thought comes across your mind, you need to harness the power of positive thinking and realize that your thoughts are wrong. They’re not facts. They’re just your insecurities coming to the top.
2. Use Discipline to Harness the Power of Positive Thinking
Handle those negative thoughts by using them as motivation. You’re not quick enough, strong enough, or fast enough? Good. You know what you need to work on. You don’t have the “IQ” or understand the playbook or team system? Good. Now you know what you need to study to make yourself better. You don’t have the athletic ability to “play at this level”? Good. That just means you need to put more time in practicing instead of trying to please your coaches.
Are you really that unathletic, slow, or weak? Of course not. You wouldn’t have made the team in the first place if you were so far off that they couldn’t take you. You may be just a step behind, and there’s only one solution to that problem: Use discipline, harness the power of positive thinking, and go out to put the time in to improve.
Are you really that dumb to understand the playbook? Of course not. You just haven’t put in the time to fully understand it because its not important to you. You’d rather go hang out with friends or do other things in your spare time instead of sitting down and memorizing your mental responsibilities within the game. So, you just fix it by having the discipline and putting in the time until everything becomes second nature. Practice breeds confidence.
The Power of Positive Thinking Improves Your Mind
The next time that you’re facing adversity, just understand one thing when it comes to playing sports and being an athlete: Nothing either ALWAYS or NEVER happens. That’s just your mind blowing things out of proportion. It’s your mind’s way of making a mountain out of a tiny little mole hill so that you can justify in your head that things are hard and you should just quit.
It’s easy to complain and blame others for your shortcomings. It’s hard to see the opportunity to overcome adversity and be the best you can. But, when it comes to athletics, if you do what is easy your life will be hard. But, if you do what is hard, your life will be easy.
Positive thinking doesn’t mean having a cheerleader in your head “rah-rah”ing you on your way to the top. The power of positive thinking actually comes from understanding that adversity is a temporary challenge and all you have to do is have persistence to defeat it. No matter how hard it is to overcome adversity, you just need to have the mindset that you will always overcome it. Sometimes may take longer than others, but eventually you always perservere.
These two benefits may seem obvious, but many athletes today shrug off positive thinking. It’s easier to be pessimistic and think that things are happening to you instead of going out there and keeping a positive mindset so that things happen for you.
But, if you do what is easy, your life will be hard. If you do what is hard, your life will be easy. Tackle adversity with the power of positive thinking and you’ll be improving in no time.