Since the pandemic has taken a toll on many of us – both physically and mentally – life feels as though it is returning to normal. But is it?
With restrictions easing over time, many of us have started hitting the gym and running outdoors again. However, large scale sporting events and competitions might not be taking place anytime soon.
As much as we enjoy working out and playing sports leisurely, we have to admit that it all seems different without the anticipation from competitions, and we find ourselves lacking the motivation in our training.
Without competitions, everything seems uncertain. When everything returns to normal, will we be physically and mentally strong enough to compete again?
Did you know that often, it is not the anxiety of competing that causes distress? It is our perception and reaction towards the event that does. When you keep pressuring yourself with these thoughts – “you should be able to run a certain distance under a certain amount of time”, “you are a failure because you can no longer run as fast as you did before MCO” – you will cause worry and stress.
This is called the ABC Model (Activating Event, Beliefs, Consequences). For example, the event “A” may be you not being able to complete a set distance within a set period of time. This then results in the belief that you are bad at running “B”. This belief then translates into the consequence “C”, where you feel demotivated, therefore wanting to give up on training. One way you can overcome your negative thoughts and beliefs is through reframing.
HOW DOES REFRAMING WORK?
This method requires you to actively put in a conscious effort to change your irrational thought patterns. Imagine looking through the lens of a camera. You can alter the outcome of the image by adjusting the camera settings. Similarly, you can choose the outcome of situations by viewing it from various perspectives.
Let us look at a few examples. First, you feel devastated that you will not be able to take part in any upcoming competitions soon, losing motivation to continue training. This can easily turn into a vicious cycle where you feel even more upset due to the lack of physical activity in your day-to-day life.
However, you can view the exact same situation from a very different perspective. You can choose to consciously change your thoughts from “This is the worst thing that has happened to me” to “Hey, this situation is not ideal, but it’s a great time for me to work on things that I’ve always wanted to work on”.
We are sure that you have all heard about the Malaysian man who managed to complete 263KM within 36 hours in his own house. Instead of moaning about being stuck indoors during MCO, he chose to make the best of his house, and ran loops around all the rooms and stairs for some mileage and elevation.
In this second example, “I greatly doubt my ability to compete again because I have not competed for such a long period of time” and “I have almost forgotten how it feels like, making me very concerned”. However, instead of viewing your next event in the future as just another event, you can reframe it into ‘my second first event’.
It is often said that your first sporting event is the most memorable one as it is often the thrill and excitement from that which has had you hooked onto the sport, and has been keeping you going ever since.
Therefore, rather than seeing this situation in a bad light, you can choose to see it as an opportunity given to you to once again experience your ‘first event’, to feel the same excitement and thrill you did back then. In addition to that, with the knowledge you have gained from previous experiences, you can now do things differently for your ‘second first event’. It’s like being able to clear your memory of watching your favourite movie, just so you could feel the same joy you did when you watched it for the first time.
SO, HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE REFRAMING INTO YOUR LIFE?
The first step to being able to reframe your thinking is the ability to identify your irrational thoughts. You are not able to fix something that you are not aware of. To do this, you can choose to keep a journal or a thought log, jotting down your thoughts and feelings after each training session or day. Keeping a log can help you identify your thought patterns and possibly potential fixes for the Automatic Negative Thoughts that arise every time.
In conclusion, reframing is the simplest way you can help yourself overcome your negative thoughts and worries. Although it is simple, it is not always easy. Remember, it is not about getting it right the first time you do it, it is about your willingness to take that first step out of your comfort zone to help yourself. With practice, not only will you be able to identify your negative thought patterns, you will also be able to change your thoughts into becoming more positive.
It is going to be a challenge in the beginning, but you will get better at reframing your thoughts! If you have difficulties or questions regarding irrational thoughts, reframing or just sport psychology in general, feel free to drop us a message at www.mindgapmy.com or our Facebook page. In addition, we will also be releasing podcasts and webinars on our Facebook page that may help you with your journey.