Accepting Yourself Unconditionally in Sport

Most sports psychologists push positive thinking on you all the time.

They kind of imply that if you are angry or frustrated it’s because you have dysfunctional thinking.

I’ve found that the easiest, most profound way to deal with your fears and frustrations is just to accept them without resistance (instead of trying to manipulate yourself out of these feelings using positive thinking).

Most athletes are quite dismal at this.

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We judge, condemn, and rebuke ourselves any time we aren’t 100% confident, positive, and happy. We tell ourselves to ‘get over it,’ not let disappoinments ‘get to us,’ and that fear or performance anxiety is a sign of weakness.

A Powerful Sport Psychology Strategy – Self-Acceptance

Tremendous relief comes from self-acceptance, because you do not having to pretend, cover up, or suppress your fears about competing.

You enjoy an inner relaxation that is heavenly.

And there is even more good news.

When you accept yourself, it’s easy to ‘drill down’ and discover WHY you are feeling anxious, stressed, or frustrated about any aspect of sport.

Such self-awareness is powerful.

It allows you to DIAGNOSE the root cause of your performance anxiety before you PRESCRIBE a solution for it. The idea ‘DIAGNOSE before you PRESCRIBE’ is as old as time itself, and central to mental toughness.

For example…

Your motivation to practice is low. You think you’re being lazy, but when you truly listen to your malaise, you correctly DIAGNOSE that you have no idea why you lost your last competition — and you can’t get all your motivation back until you do.

You’re terrified of choking under pressure. You think it’s because a big event is coming up, but when listen to your performance anxiety, you DIAGNOSE that since you’ve nevercompeted internationally before,
you’re totally unsure about what to expect.

You get annoyed when your father is highly critical after important games. You think it’s because he’s right in his criticisms, but when you listen to your fear, you DIAGNOSE that what you really need is unconditional support — and he’s not getting the memo.

You’re doubting yourself. You think it’s because your coach is being harsh, but when you listen to your stress, you DIAGNOSE that you secretly agree with his comments and want to improve and stop making the same mistakes…but have no idea how.

The Inner Barrier to Self-Acceptance

Of course, the reason we find it so hard to accept ourselves is that sometimes, we are not the athlete we would like to be. When we dislike something, we resist it–and the fears that come with it.

Consider element of your skills, fitness, or conditioning. Is your attitude towards it one of acceptance or resistance?

You may be wondering, “What if I despise something about myself? How can I accept it? And IF I accept it, am I stuck with my bad serve, poor agility, or limited defensive instincts?

The answer is No.

I am not asking you to accept an unsatisfactory situation. I am merely asking you to accept your fears about it so you can DIAGNOSE the root cause of your fear so you can do something about it.

Most problems in sport can be solved, but you have to know what they are first.

The courage to accept your fears–and yourself–always paves the way for change and better performance.

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