Gain the Mental Edge
By: Ryan Sypkens
Inspired by: Ken Baum, World Renowned Performance Psychologist
The brain is the most powerful and least understood organ in the human body. Science has been able to measure many causations and correlations between brain processes and their effects, but the reasons why these phenomena exist and exactly how they work are often unknown. The thinking patterns that you train your brain to have directly affect everything about your life including your health, happiness, and performance potential. For example, negative thinking patterns are scientifically proven to reduce health and life expectancy. In an article published by The Lancet, San Diego researches examined 30,000 Chinese Americans and compared them to over 400,000 randomly selected white people. They found that the Chinese Americans die significantly earlier when they were strongly attached to traditional Chinese superstitions that predicted their early deaths. The data suggests that life expectancy could not be explained by genetic factors, lifestyle choices, behavior, the skill of the doctors, or any other variable. It was concluded that the reason for their premature deaths are not because of their Chinese genes, but rather because of their Chinese beliefs. They believed in the superstition thus causing them to believe they will die younger, and they did. Another studied showed that 79% of medical students report developing symptoms suggestive of the illnesses they are studying. Their bodies were reacting to the paranoia of getting sick by getting sick. There are hundreds of other studies that have similar results and they all suggest that negative thinking patterns have negative effects.
In order for your brain to function in a manner that promotes performance excellence requires a great deal of training and exercise. Making sure your mental fitness matches your ambition is vital to reaching your goals. There are many techniques that can help you do this but today I will focus on changing your thinking habits and visualization.
Changing Thinking Habits
There are two ways to perceive your world, positively and negatively. As a professional basketball player in Japan, I had to deal with a great deal of adversity and still find a way to consistently perform. The team I was playing for was not paying us what they owe and our coach was an alcoholic who didn’t know how to coach basketball past an elementary level. These were very difficult obstacles that I faced and had to find a way to still do my job to the best of my ability. I easily could’ve complained about these obstacles and use them as a reason to stop trying, but instead I decided to look at the situation differently. Instead of seeing myself as a victim, I instead saw this situation as an opportunity to become a stronger and more resilient person; not to mention the opportunity to see other parts of the world. By doing this I was able to have a good attitude and relentless effort everyday. This was a “winners” attitude and it allowed me to maintain a high performance level. To help you build a similar perspective related to your current situation, challenges, and obstacles, Write down:
· 5 limiting beliefs you have about yourself
· Is there any evidence that any or all of these may not be true?
· How did you develop these beliefs?
· Are they keeping you from getting what you want?
· If so, what can you do to change them?
· Who can you talk to about this? What can you read or listen to? How can you defocus a belief and limit its negative impact?
· 5 positives beliefs you have about yourself
· How can you use these beliefs more effectively?
The term visualization implies that this technique only involves sight but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Imagery is most effective when you create the most vivid picture incorporating all 5 senses. A talented visualizer can create an image that has so much detail that they create every smell, sound, taste, and the way objects feel when they are touched. This allows the moment to be experienced as if it were truly happening. Next, be sure these images are positive. Picture yourself accomplishing your biggest goals, or playing an amazing game tomorrow night in the championship game.
· Know exactly what goal you want to accomplish through visualization.
· Imagery should be personal, positive, and extremely detailed.
· Focus on experiencing every emotion and feeling.
· Don’t force the visualization; you will get better with practice.
· Visualization results don’t come over night. Success takes patience and dedication.
· Always do your visualization exercise before an important upcoming event or game
Thanks for reading, time to get to work!