The weight room attendant says, “Welcome to the mental weight room: To your left is the relaxation equipment where one can dive into progressive muscle relaxation and autogenic training; in that corner over there one can learn the techniques of concentration and the degrees of focus needed to increase performance. Other areas of the weight room include mental routine training, imagery machines (discussed last time), and self-talk programs.” She then ends by asking, “But before you can enter, do you have your self-awareness ID?”
Self-awareness is, in my opinion, the foundation of any successful performance. We as human beings need to understand ourselves, values, motives, and missions in life before we can be truthful to ourselves and to others. Being aware can improve our personal judgment and increase opportunities for increased performance within our domains.
Some may believe that self-awareness is not classified as a mental skill and I would agree; however, it is a skill that if mastered can transform mediocre performances into great ones. In the book, Wherever You Go, There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn discusses stilling the mind and discovering peace and satisfaction in the present moment. He suggests that this this type of awareness can teach individuals things about themselves they never noticed before.
So before we enter the mental weight room, we should get our self-awareness ID in order. Here are a few homework tips to mastering self-awareness:
1. Be in the moment
2. Relax your shoulders and stretch your spine
3. Your attention will wander, when it does, bring it back to your breathe
4. Accept your imperfections
5. Be awake to life
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2005). Wherever you go, there you are. New York: MJF Books.
Lyndsey Seewald is a graduate of the University of Denver’s Sport & Performance Psychology Masters Program. Now she is a coach for a private collegiate basketball team, where she works with athletes to increase their mental and physical resilience during injury recovery and helps them develop techniques to overcome obstacles both on the court and in life.