Earlier today I spent some time with Heather O’Reilly, US Women’s Soccer player and gold medalist. We chatted about the mental game in soccer and I was impressed at how strong O’Reilly’s mental game was.
I asked O’Reilly if she ever had negative thoughts pop up in her head when competing. Her response?
Everyone has negative thoughts sometimes, but the greatest athletes in the world have a different relationship to their thinking.
When Heather has a negative thought, she doesn’t make a big deal out of it. In fact, it just passes on by and she focuses on the next play.
This is powerful because when we ignore a negative thought, it disappears pretty quickly and our mind naturally clears so we have access to our intuition, wisdom, confidence, energy and peak performance. In other words, we don’t have to believe a negative thought.
If you can remember a time when you were in the “zone,” you probably had very little thinking and the thinking you did have just came and went. On the other hand, when you were in a slump, your head was probably flooded with thoughts like…
“I stink today!”
“What’s wrong with me?!?”
“Why do I keep missing that shot?”
“What will people think if I lose?”
Those thoughts have no power unless we believe them. If we believe them, we allow them to grow and they get bigger and stronger and before we know it, they take over our bodies and minds and we get stuck.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Now, you don’t have to have the experience or soccer skills of a Heather O’Reilly, but you can almost instantly have the mindset of Heather by understanding that negative thoughts are part of the game and it is always our choice whether we feed them, or let them come and go.
I’d love to hear your thoughts so feel free to leave your comments below. Thanks for reading.
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