Getting to Know Yourself

annamitchellBy Anna Mitchell

This week it’s all about you. We are wrapping up another year and on the downhill run to 2014. What changes do you want to make next year? What frustrated you about your performance this year? What mistakes did you make? Did you make them more than once? What did you do well? Did you do it again? What could you have done differently to get a better outcome?

It’s time to get to know yourself. I mean really understand what makes you tick. We spend thousands of dollars on new horses and switch trainers more than we change our socks, but maybe the problem isn’t out there after all. Maybe we should be looking within.

How well do you know yourself? How do your emotions effect your performance? What causes you to feel; angry, excited, nervous, happy, relieved, afraid? Do you know how your body responds to these emotions and do you know how to control them?

Who are you? Are you truly comfortable in your own skin? We have an inner self and an outer self. Often our self that we identify with is different to our self that others see. When our inner and outer selves are incongruent we can experience considerable discomfort as we struggle to find a balance and establish our self-identity. This effects our confidence and self esteem which can and does have a very direct impact on your ability to perform.

So take some time to learn more about yourself. Learn your strengths and weaknesses. Learn what pushes your buttons and what makes you smile. Examine your values. Values shape the way we think we should  behave but not necessarily how we do behave. When we act in a way that is inconsistent with our values, it causes us emotional distress. For example, Jack may feel like he should be home spending time with his family but instead he is on the road going to show after show. He may need to do that to support his family, but the inconsistency between what he wants to do and what he has to do can leave him feeling guilty and depressed. These powerful emotions can have a huge impact on his concentration as he walks into the pen. For the sake of his performance, he needs to work out what he’s feeling, why he’s feeling it and then work to restore some balance.

Learning more about yourself can give you valuable insight into patterns of problematic behavior that may be crippling your performance. Remember to focus on what you can control, and work to accept the things you cannot.

Keep moving forward by paying attention to what is going on right now. Are you putting in the time and energy you think you need to be in your sport? If not, why not? Do you find yourself making excuses not to practice? They may be legitimate excuses, but they are still holding you back from your goals. Do you need to prioritize and learn to manage your time more effectively, or could those excuses be hiding something else, like a fear of failure?

Learning to be honest with yourself is the first step to personal growth and understanding. If you want to know who you can be as an athlete, you must first know who you are as a person.

Who are you?

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