This morning I heard in the NEWS a comment made by Keven Mealamu, the captain of the Blues, that he lost his confidence because of the poor start of the Rugby season with the Blues ending up in the bottom of the score board.
I find it fascinating how widespread the myth is that outside circumstances can influence what happens inside of a person’s mind. How terrifying it must be to think like that and find yourself at the mercy of people and circumstances no one can control. But it’s a mirage, it’s not true!
You can’t lose confidence like a set of keys. It can’t fall out of your head and be found at the park where you had it last. Confidence is how you think and feel about yourself. Nothing more, nothing less. It is very easy to see with tennis players: they start off being ‘in the zone’ where they hit the ball well, anticipate where the ball will land, and score great points … until the table turns. Suddenly they miss a few hits, their serve is broken, and their games deteriorates. They start to worry, become tense, start arguing with the lines men, or throw their racket angrily to the ground. All a sign of frantic, negative self-talk. Nothing outside of them makes them miss the ball – it’s their own mind that spirals down.
It’s the same for every person. When we are ‘in the zone’ everything flows. We enjoy what we are doing, everything appears to come effortlessly, we don’t think a lot. We trust that we do the best we can. We are OK with who we are and what we can achieve. Indeed, we don’t think much, we just are. In his state of mind we are successful and happy. It is our place of innate health and well-being.
Only when we start over-thinking things, worrying about our next move, analysing our situation, remembering other moments in which we performed poorly, becoming critical and judgemental about ourselves and others will our state of mind deteriorate and we end up feeling bad. We are slipping out of our innate health and well-being. We become troubled and distressed. Our performance deteriorates.
Our mood changes constantly from low mood to high mood, going up and down like an elevator in a sky scraper. Most people attempt to get out of low mood by trying harder, thinking harder, working harder, or searching for the elusive positive thought. They overlook that the place of innate health is one of very little thinking and inner calm. In contrast, low mood is signified by a huge increase of thinking, racing thoughts that lead to nothing much.
Trying to think your way out of a problem is a straight path to mental distress – almost akin to self-harm. The medicine for low mood is ‘doing nothing’ and ‘thinking as little as possible’ and riding it out like bad weather. I know, it’s counter-intuitive because when we feel bad we feel compelled to do something about it. But it’s rather like when you have a sailing boat. Don’t go out when there is a gale blowing. Wait till the waters are calm again.
Keven Mealamu will find that his confidence is not lost. As soon as he will become aware that his feeling bad is caused by his thinking, that the poor performance of the team is due to collective negative thinking that causes the players stress and therefore interferes with their skills, he will discover that his confidence has never gone away. It just was buried under masses of low quality thinking.
It’s not rocket science, its common sense. Life can be so easy and most people work hard at complicating the hell out of it. It’s simply understanding the three principles of our psychological make-up. The moment people understand that their thinking is creating their feelings they are on the way to a more peaceful, successful, and happy life.