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  • Sharon Borland

#14 What or Who are You Listening to?

What are you missing out on because you’re listening to yourself?

What or who are you listening to? That’s a question I’ve been reflecting on today after hearing so many inspiring stories from the Olympic competitors.

I’ve naturally focused before on the physical efforts that athletes go through to get to the top of their game – the hours of training, pushing through fatigue and pain, the chance of injuries (especially in the riskier sports), the impact of diet, illness and so on.

But what about the mental effort? Mental well-being, focus, concentration, motivation and all manner of things have an effect on an athlete’s performance. More and more often, high profile sporting figures in the Olympics and elsewhere are talking not only about the advice of a brilliant coach, the support and encouragement of family and friends but also the work they do with a Sports Psychologist. The expertise of a psychologist enables them to maximise their training and performance, to manage the pressure that can be exerted, intentionally or otherwise, by family, team members, or the media, and help them to cope with the negative attention that many sports men and women experience on social media.

I’m not trying to simplify a very complex area, but so much of our lives is impacted by what we listen to. We can choose to switch off the TV, not read the Twitter feed, and not engage in conversation with some people. But the thing we spend most of our time listening to is ourselves, and that’s a bit harder to switch off! Not only is it hard to switch off but we may not even be aware how much we’re listening to ourselves or what that conversation is like.

Whilst many of us could benefit from the support of a psychologist, there is much we can do to help ourselves too. Taking time to really tune into how we talk to ourselves is the beginning of being able to intervene and transform our lives.

I recently completed a 32km run on the Isle of Wight. Not a stunning achievement compared to the Olympic athletes but something I never thought I’d do. I spent years saying to myself (as well as anyone else who was around when the topic of running came up!) that I hated running. I think it started in school after a couple of enforced cross country runs in PE and, apart from the odd jog about 20 years ago, I never really tried again, so convinced was I that it was going to be horrible. With encouragement from family during the first Lockdown, I started running and discovered it wasn’t as bad as I thought, in fact I really enjoyed feeling fitter, the satisfaction of completing a run, and the delicious cake or cider I could justify afterwards!! The only thing that sometimes gets in the way of me running now is the conversation in my head before I decide to go.

What are you missing out on because you’re listening to yourself?


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