Why Winning and Losing hits us hard and how “Thankful Power” can settle us down
One of the things that helps de stress life and give perspective is the ability to be thankful and notice the good stuff. Many of my @winningparent tweets are designed to make you become aware of the good that exists already in your children. When you can see their health, their joy, their independence and individuality it can settle you down in your attitude towards their futures. Sometimes when people feel responsibility for leading people they get so worried that all they can notice is the potential problems and actual problems as opposed to the opportunities and life experience benefits. I believe thats why we all value winning so highly because we think “I must be doing something right as a coach/parent/player/friend/guru/etc if we have just WON!” It is a double boost as we ‘drop off worry’ and go to ‘high satisfaction’. Losing can have the opposite effect. We feel more out of control when we lose and then panic and desperation can set in, then blame and then searching for what you lack. Many Sports parents do this, they immediately think “what have we done wrong, what do we need to do more of, what has my son not done enough of, who is to blame?” Then comes the inevitable emotional debrief often in the car journey home or in front of the coach at the next training session. Debriefs are important but not the way they are carried out by emotional parents.
Of course winning is the aim of sport and it is natural to feel more fulfilled and worthy after victory. Losing will always lead to less fulfillment and in many will cause suffering. The trick is however not to go too high or too low and aim to treat “those two imposters just the same (R Kipling, If)“
Notice the good stuff, better skills, better fitness, better attitude, better teamwork, better sportsmanship, better decision making…. There will be many things that aren’t going well and you will notice those too BUT make sure you search for those SMALL IMPROVEMENTS every time you watch your children play. In the long run this is the best way to be and in the end you will become such a rock of support that they will trust you to open up their real fears. Then and only then will you be able to really HELP them move themselves on in life.
When my wife won the World Championships last year she did not do everything perfect, far from it in fact. If we are not careful we could hold that up in our memories as a perfect model to try and attain again. I know for a fact she has played better and lost to a better performance from her opponent. We have learned not to over react and to not play the “all or nothing” game of victory and defeat. We can credit opponents more, understand more clearly where we have to improve and recognise what is working better in training and play. What we have also learned to do over the years is to pick out 5 or 6 positives and maybe 2 or 3 areas for improvement. We will not go over the top after victories or feel useless after defeats. This is not easy to do and does not come naturally to us. It has been worked at and always takes a conscious effort. This approach is healthy and we have found it helps make us RESILIENT in the face of tough ongoing challenges that sport provides.
So what helps the most?
Simple: something I have called Thankful Power. Read below to find out how to build it up….
IT’S ONLY WHEN ATHLETES HAVE INJURIES THAT THEY START TO APPRECIATE THAT BEING INJURY FREE IS A GREAT PLACE TO BE. YET, WHEN THEY ARE INJURY-FREE, THEY OFTEN LOOK FOR OTHER THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT AND DON’T FEEL GRATEFUL.
Are you in the habit of feeling like you have nothing much to be thankful for?
It was none other than Oprah Winfrey who came up with this bit of wisdom: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus said: “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”
When you are really thankful for the things you already have, life gets better straight away.
So what can you be grateful for in your life right now? In what ways are you really lucky? Who can you be thankful to?
Think about friends, family, health, technology, education, hobbies, community, food and drink, warmth and accommodation, facilities, opportunities and simply being alive!
It’s the most powerful exercise you’ll ever do!
Self DO exercises –
1. Start a “thank you journal” and add things to your list every day. Maybe write 5 things into your phone everday eg: Thanks for – my breath, my childrens smiles, music, the birds, my running shoes, this chocolate cake i am going to eat!
THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME BREATHE, FOR LETTING ME SEE AND FOR LETTING ME HEAR.
THANK YOU FOR MY FRIENDS, MY FAMILY AND MY HEROES.
THANK YOU FOR MY BRAIN, MY BODY AND MY SPIRIT.
THANK YOU FOR FOOD, FOR DRINK AND THANK YOU FOR CHOICE.
THANK YOU FOR MY BED, WARMTH AND SHELTER AND THANK YOU FOR A HOME.
THANK YOU FOR BEING ABLE TO LAUGH, FOR BEING ABLE TO FEEL SAD AND TO BE ABLE TO SMILE.
THANK YOU FOR THE SKY, THE LAND AND THE AIR WE ALL BREATHE
THANK YOU FOR BIRDS, ANIMALS AND ALL NATURE
THANK YOU FOR MY PHONE, MY TV AND MY CAR
THANK YOU FOR MY KIT, MY COMPETITORS AND THE REFEREES
THANK YOU FOR MY BEST FRIEND, MY MATES AND MY PETS
THANK YOU FOR ALL MY OPPORTUNITIES, MY TEACHERS AND MY COACHES
THANK YOU FOR SPORT, THANK YOU FOR ART, THANK YOU FOR SCIENCE
THANK YOU FOR MY CLOTHES, MY SHOES AND MY TOOTHBRUSH
Thanks for giving me my brilliant skills
Thanks for giving my fitness and strength
Thanks for my clever thinking
Thanks for letting me find this sport to play
Thanks for my ongoing improvement
Thanks for the chance to always improve
Thanks for competition and my opponents to play
Thanks for prizes and things to win
Thanks for fun and play
Thanks for my fighting qualities and determination
Start NOW and feel stronger immediately
2. LIVING THANKFUL
Maybe every day send one person a text message, thanking them for something.
It could be like this:
“Hi Paul, I just wanted to let you know today how much I really appreciate the coaching session you gave me the other night. It will really help me. Thank you.”
“Good morning mum, thanks a lot for the chat last night. It’s nice to know you care about me and my future. Love you, John.”
Do it right now and see how you feel when you press send. Better, the same or worse?
I would guess you feel better straight away…. That is “Thankful Power” right there.
3. PHONE ALERT
Send yourself a strong reminder that goes off on your phone once a day.
“Hey you, wake up! You are so lucky to have the things you have, remember them! You are healthy you are loved and you have loads of opportunities. Be thankful and think about all the things you have got going for you rather than what is missing. Tell the people who you are lucky to know that you appreciate them.”
4. FACE TO FACE
Saying ‘thank you’ directly to a person’s face is very powerful. It can feel a little strange if you’re not used to it. So practice it and see if you can show it sincerely.
Remember a time when you really were thankful to somebody for giving you something or helping you out in an emergency. Your thanks would have been sincere. You meant it!
Eye contact is the big thing. Look at somebody in the eyes when you thank them. It really makes the difference. The message will land stronger and you will receive a look back that will boost your power too.
5. OFFER something to show you APPRECIATE
Showing you are thankful by saying it is great, but showing it with actions is also really important.
Give your time
Offer a small gift
Buy flowers or a card
Make something for the other person e.g. bake a cake, cook a meal, a homemade card
Help out where you can e.g. clean up, ask if you can do anything to help.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening.