Understand & Trust Yourself: A Key to Being In The Zone

April 18, 2014

April’s Theme is Peak Sports Performance

How often do you find yourself in the zone, in golf or in life? This is something most athletes are familiar with, but not on a regular basis. Of all the hundreds of athletes I have worked with, many of which are elite in their sport, they frequently say the zone experience eludes them. They can name moments when they have felt it, but only a handful of times. So they come to me anxious to learn how to be more in the zone, although I would say most of them don’t think it’s really possible to learn how to get there on purpose. They have tried so many times on their own in the only ways they know how, with little or no success. That all changed as they applied my teachings. They learned to understand themselves. They learned to trust themselves and ultimately became better performers. Most of my teachings will ultimately help guide you into a state of mind described as being in the zone, a large majority of your life; not just when you play your sport. You cannot expect your mind to be a certain way on the course, while shooting or performing in whatever sport you play, that is different from how it is the rest of the time. You cannot expect that all of a sudden you will turn on these really great skills that instantly put you into the zone state. The mind doesn’t work like that. Life doesn’t work like that. You have to master these skills, get out of the conscious analytical, ego mind, stop letting it run the show and causing you to just react. You need to get to a place where you are out of that mode, more than you are in it.

One of the important elements that I will discuss in this article comes from a suggestion in my sports hypnosis products. As you apply it to your life, it will help you shift your mindsets and how you view yourself and life around you. When your mind shifts to a more healthy and unlimited way of seeing things, you will experience greater performance and profound positive change in your life and sport. You should also be able to achieve the zone state on a more regular basis. The suggestion is: “I take time to understand myself, and then deliberately apply that knowledge in my life and in golf”. You can apply this to any sport; just drop off the ending of “in golf” and replace it with “in my sport” if you participate in shooting or something else. You can even drop off the sport reference completely, because it applies to everything in your life. That is the overall approach I take with my teachings, since it will help you reach your performance goals more quickly, and it also provides the added benefit of improving performance in all areas of your life as you consistently apply them. I highly encourage you to take the same approach as well. When it comes to taking time to understand yourself, you may think it sounds superficial, silly and ridiculous, because you think you know yourself pretty well already. But do you really know yourself? I ask because when you have a really strong clarity about who you are, then you can make decisions from a place of trust and honor who you are and your preferences. Through that, you can achieve greater performance in everything you do. You recognize that people are all unique. I am not eliminating that here, but I am not going to address it right now. The genetic makeup and experiences we have are all the same in a lot of ways, but it is a whole other topic.

Knowing who you are as a foundation will help you to understand yourself. Let’s look at the fact that you are different as far as your unique preferences, and who you are and how you choose to live the hours and days of your life. What are your gifts and in what areas are you limited? Take time to recognize those. In what areas do you excel? What can you do to tap into those areas in which you are gifted or excel, and what can you do to recognize, neutrally, the areas in which you are limited, and identify ways of using them to the greater good in your life?

As you begin to acquire a deeper understanding of yourself, you will also gain a higher level of trust. How many of times have you not trusted your club choice when are out there on the golf course, preparing to tee off? You’re getting ready to drive the ball, but maybe you see other golfers making other club choices from the one you had intended to use. You then begin to doubt yourself. With a true understanding of you and your abilities with each particular club, and respecting and honoring that knowledge, you will perform better. I know this happens with so many different athletes. I know you know exactly what it feels like when you have a thought and believe you know what you need to do, but you second guess yourself and doubt your decision and change your mind because of that doubt. Then what happens? You don’t perform as well as you would like and you want to kick yourself because you think you should have gone with your initial choice. You knew what you should have done but you doubted yourself, reacted to that doubt, and then your performance decreased. I know you are familiar with that and you can also experience it in many other areas of life, not just in golf. The same thing happens with the shooters with whom I work. They can watch others shoot the clay and the break points that they use, and then they start to doubt themselves. They begin to question where they thought they should break the bird. Then they either rush or slow down their gun to make it happen differently than they originally thought it should happen, and there goes their performances. Because they allowed doubt to creep in, insecurities ,or a wavering in their decision, they end up missing the shot.

Taking time to understand yourself is extremely important; not just in your sport, but also in your life. Think about the clarity you could have at work, in your business partnerships and your relationships. Let’s say you are single and dating and have very little clarity about who you are, what you really prefer in your life and how you want to spend the hours of your day. You may be wishy-washy, moving in a lot of different directions or going with the flow, and finding yourself in situations you don’t want to be in. Or you could engage in conversations that you do not enjoy, but you stay there anyway because you think you should. You might even be dating a lot of different personalities and find yourself frustrated. Now let’s say you had clarity and took the time to understand yourself, and deliberately applied that knowledge in your dating life. You would have better ‘picking ability’ with a date because your filter would be stronger. You could make clearer decisions as to who you are compatible with in the long term, and build healthy relationships. You should also be able to filter out people with whom you are not compatible. You would not need to spend much time trying to figure it out, because you would see it clearly as you understand and trust yourself. I hope you can see how this works across the board, and the importance of the connection between clarity and performing well.

Okay, so now you probably wonder, “Well gosh, how do I get this level of clarity?” That does not happen overnight. What I do with my clients is I actually take them through a pretty long brainstorming series of exercises, in which they can neutrally observe themselves, others, life, relationships and various situations. We basically cover every area of life, so they can learn what their preferences are in each area. They neutrally observe all of those areas and get a really clear idea what direction they lean in, and take note of that. I say neutral because I am not talking about judging others as good or bad, or that choices or situations were right or wrong, that they were right or wrong or better or worse than another person. It is a neutral observation of situations, scenarios, personalities, people, choices, the way people speak to and treat others, and even how they dress. We go through all of that. It is sort of like getting to know a new dating companion, except you ask yourself all the same kinds of questions. It’s like dating yourself for a while. Ask yourself all of the big questions, and it will help you gain a real clarity in understanding who you are and what you prefer.

This is an ongoing process, but when you get started you can have some light bulb moments early on. That will help you really start to honor and trust yourself, and enable you to make the types of decisions that help you perform better and better in life as you move forward. It is that trust in yourself that enables you to get in the zone. When doubt disappears and you just go with your decision in the moment, knowing that what you are doing is in line with who you are and your capabilities. You won’t even have to try to be in the zone, it will just happen. You can start the process now, a little bit at a time. It’s learning about yourself and applying what you learn in the next opportunities that come up and are similar to what you have observed, in a manner that honors who you are. Then you continue to learn more and more as you keep observing and staying neutral, while you strive to gain a deeper understanding of who you are. The more you continue to honor and trust yourself and make the kinds of choices in your life that are compatible with who you are, the more you will experience being in the zone and the better you will perform. I hope you take the time to get to know and really understand yourself, so you can begin to trust and honor who you are and perform better in everything you do. If you would like extra help with this, please contact me. I wish you well as you seek to better understand and trust yourself, and be in the zone. I know you can do it! InJoy your day!

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