Here’s one of life’s facts, which we have all probably heard but have never given much thought:
Your brain doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined.
So what does that mean?
That thing in life you’ve been dwelling about—whether it's the upcoming presentation, the vacation you’re about to take or the date you have tonight—is happening right now for your brain. And the more descriptive and “in it” you are with your thoughts, the stronger the corresponding emotions will be.
So let’s break this down by using a skating analogy. (I like using those; if you follow my Insta story, you probably know that by now :) haha.)
Let’s say it’s a couple of weeks before Nationals. Last season, you fell on your triple flip in the short. Now, as this year’s event approaches, every time you think about your short program, your thoughts veer back to last year’s fall. Seemingly without any effort, you see yourself falling again. You start to feel your heart rate quickening. Your palms are getting a bit sweaty. Your stomach drops with that familiar sense of disappointment. And, usually, some panicked inner dialogue begins, “What’s going to happen if I fall again?” “I’ve worked so hard and can’t believe this could happen two years in a row.”
You feel horrible.
The longer you stay keyed into these thoughts, the stronger and more intense these icky emotions will become. And, if you return to this same mental video about the event a few days in a row, suddenly any time you think about upcoming short programs—at any event—your heart rate will quicken, your palms will perspire and your body will become paralyzed by the fear of falling and letting yourself down. This can result in apathy during training sessions and the erroneous belief that even if you work as hard as you can, there’s a good chance you’re probably going to let yourself down.
Basically, you’ve ruled yourself out weeks before that short program.
Not good, and so unnecessary.
We all have anxiety about an upcoming event that we know probably isn't helping us. But at times—particularly for situations where we’ve had prior adverse emotional reactions—it feels like we are doomed to repeat the past. It’s as if our brain automatically flips to the worst case scenario. If we’ve gone through a super painful breakup, any time we see a potential mate, we might get excited for a second but then dread the potential ending of this fictional relationship; our mind flips to experiencing another messy ending, and the sadness and abandonment that we experienced in our past come flooding back in. We may start to avoid situations that trigger thoughts about the past because we are sure we are just those type of people who are “bad short program skaters” or unlucky in love.
The scary, but truthful thing is, we are.
But it’s not because there is something inherently wrong with us; it’s just because of the way we’re thinking. And we can start to change this through something I call scripting.
Every night, I script. I write a page about my future life—but the key is that I write it like it happened earlier that day, and I write only about things I want to happen and emotions I want to experience.
So take the example of the short program at Nationals. If I were scripting, I would describe how proud and satisfied I felt when I left the ice after my program. I’d write about the joy and excitement I felt when I landed each jump and when the marks came up. I would literally write about the perfect experience.
Once you put the pen down (Again, I’m old-school, pen and paper.), you’ll feel empowered and relieved. And the more you script about a specific event, the more your subconscious mind truly believes it’s taken place. If you’ve been scripting the short program, now any time you think about the event, you'll feel energized, filled with excitement and enthusiasm—without effort. This is because to your brain, you’ve already nailed that performance. It has literally already happened.
The key with scripting is to focus on the emotions you want to feel, and allow yourself to be as “in the event” as possible while you're writing. The more engrossed you are in the movie you’re watching about your future self, the more real it becomes. So, when you’re in that situation in the future, your mind already knows how to respond; you’ve already programmed it with your desired response.
Try scripting. Incorporate it into your daily routine. I promise you’ll notice an improvement in your life, and you’ll begin to understand how much control you actually have over your life—particularly over situations that you used to dread. You deserve to give yourself everything you’ve ever wanted. Make your brain work for you :)