Growing up in sports led me to explore the human mind to better understand myself and improve my performance as an athlete. One of the common conversations we would have as athletes is around our feeling states. Feelings like fear and pressure before the race or shyness and stress before TV interviews.
Each one of us, my teammates and I, had a different experience around these circumstances. So we would ask each other for tips to improve the way we deal with our feelings and perhaps get rid of these states all together.
One of the common ending points of our discussions would be "I guess that's just my personality". This statement is often said when we can't explain the wide difference in how we experience the same circumstances. For example, I would not feel worried before interviews, but my teammate would. Or my teammate would feel excited before a very challenging workout, while I would feel down and worried.
There it was. Proof that circumstances are not responsible for our feeling states. But none of us saw it. We kept trying to explain the differences in our experience by blaming it on our personality types or the mindset each one of us has developed over the years.
The mind only works one way
Our feeling states are created one way, and one way only, from the inside out. A race does not have the ability to transmit feelings of pressure to me or anyone else. My thinking about the race is what creates a low feeling experience or a high feeling experience.
For example, I did not feel pressure in every race I ever participated in. Sometimes I felt pressure, and other times I had a different feeling. And still, I tried to blame it on something outside of me. Like the breakfast I ate that morning or what time I slept the night before.
This is a very wide spread misunderstanding. We all see the outside as the cause of our inner feeling state. Things like:
- Loads of work. (Feeling pressure and stress)
- Tight schedule. (Feeling rushed and tensed)
- Relationships. (Anger, fear, or sadness)
Here is how it actually works:
Thought + Consciousness State = Feelings (about what's going on out there).
How am I going to do in this race? Am I ready enough? (Thought) + Outside does effect my inner state (State of consciousness) = Feelings of pressure and lack of confidence (About the race).
It looks like the outside is causing my stress and lack of confidence, and if I didn't understand how the mind works, I would probably think there is something wrong with me and that I'm not built for high performance sports.
Do you ever think that you're not built to be a founder, leader or CEO? Maybe that you're not meant to have a beautiful relationship or a healthy body? Maybe making a lot of money is only meant for some people but not you.
This is the cost we pay when we have the misunderstanding that how we feel is caused by outside circumstances. It becomes really hard to go after what our hearts desire.
True freedom is found when you realize that your feeling states can shift from bad to good as your mind shifts from a low state to higher state. Circumstances don't need to change what so ever.
This is not to say that if you don't like something about your circumstances you shouldn't do something about it. But the attempt is way easier when your wellbeing is not on the line!
Enjoy living. Enjoy succeeding.