At first glance, athletic training could be defined as purely physical. But what about the emotional components? Self talk, internal beliefs and managing your emotions play a big part in your performance as well. For example, if you are running and start feeling tired, you have two options. You can think to yourself: This is too hard, I cannot keep running. Or you can think: This is hard but I can still do it. In this situation, positive self talk can play a huge role in how the remainder of your run goes.
Emotional Intelligence is known as the ability to understand, process and work through your emotions. This means that your emotional intelligence can change over your lifetime. A psychologist named Daniel Goleman believes there are five elements to emotional intelligence. These are: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. As an athlete, all of these pieces of emotional intelligence can be used to improve your performance. Emotional intelligence cannot be measured as easily as other forms of intelligence because there is not a clear way to test it. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot improve your emotional intelligence and as a result, improve your life.
Self-awareness and self-regulation can be further defined as knowing how you process emotions and knowing how to respond to them most effectively. One thing you can do to work on this type of emotional intelligence is keeping a journal to better understand your thoughts. You can use this journal to keep track of your progress with being aware and regulation your emotions. In terms of self-regulation, you can keep yourself accountable by telling someone about your journey. Having someone to keep you accountable can be helpful when things get challenging.
Motivation can be improved in many different ways but is closely tied to the positive self talk component we discussed earlier. Using affirmations can be a helpful way to improve your positive self talk. In turn, by improving your positive self talk, you will feel more confident in your abilities. Thus you will be more motivated to do them. In addition to affirmations, you can use the assistance of books, articles or videos about people who you look up to. These kind of motivations are most helpful when the people who you choose to “study” have the kind of life or mindset you want.
Empathy is an important factor of being a human in a general sense. But in regards to athletics and improving your physical abilities, it can been seen as having empathy towards yourself. Being gentle with yourself during your training, while still pushing yourself to the next level. This can be a hard balance to achieve, but will help your mental health along with your physical performance.
Finally, social skills can be helpful in a team setting or if you are working with a coach. At some point in your life, you will need to work with others in a constructive way. Knowing how to respond to people and work as a team is incredibly important in many situations. Socialization is known as being helpful for our emotions in a general sense. We need relationships and social situations to thrive in our lives.
It’s okay if these ideas seem out of reach or unrealistic to put into practice. Nothing worth having comes easy! But if you are serious about your performance, a whole body/mind approach is imperative. It may take some time and a lot of hard work, but crossing this finish line changes the game – for good.