Does your mind ever say: “I can’t do this” or “just stay in bed”? Mine does and it does for most athletes and people who train at the gym. We are often told to block those negative thoughts and just push on. Well, evidence now indicates that trying to block out negative thoughts just makes them stronger and more persistent with the result being we are less motivated to train and have reduced performance when we do train.
There is another way to work with difficult thoughts and one that is proving very successful with Olympic teams, V8 supercar drivers and elite athletes.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a treatment approach that is a mix of mindfulness, defusion of negative thoughts, acceptance, committed action and values work. For athletes and those of us who train at the gym, ACT suggests that we often fail at goals due to psychological inflexibility which is means that we cannot change our behaviour or focus our attention to succeed or reach our goals.
Our minds often struggle with many different thoughts, feelings and emotions. Often, we experience many different thoughts such as anxiety, frustration, joy, happiness, despair, etc going on in our mind. It is very easy to become distracted by all various thoughts and feelings. By becoming distracted by our thoughts or trying to control them we are less able to focus on the task at hand and this ultimately results in sub-optimal performance. This applies equally to training, sport, work or relationships.
Psychologists have recently begun to apply the principles of ACT in a variety of sports, with the focus for athletes to switch their attention to the task at hand rather than controlling - or being distracted by – thoughts and emotions. The result being they can compete or train more successfully.
Contact us today to see how ACT can increase your mental health, your psychological flexibility and your performance.
Matthew Reynolds has a gradute diploma is Counselling and a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He was a qualified accountant before embarking on a more satisfying career of counselling.