Did you ever find yourself stuck in a relationship, working on something you didn’t love, or even stuck in a place witch kills your creativity or maybe, focusing on problems with no resolution, instead of taking steps towards a better you ?
Across the world of elite sport, a problem pops up over and over again, athlete’s mental game.
Top athletes under-perform when expectations are highest. One thing goes wrong, then another, then another. Soon, the higher-ranking opponent collapses and no one is really sure why.
“The core of the problem is the wrong view of how the human mind actually works. Feelings and emotions are the foundation to thought – not the other way around. We have a flat earth-round earth moment right now where most advisors fear the round earth yet it’s exactly the path to greater horizons and specifically the path for athletes to use to outperform under pressure.”
That is according to Denise Shull, a Performance Coach who serves as the Principal of the ReThink Group, a New York-based human capital consultancy that leverages the latest neuroscience and psychological research into creating new levels of human performance.
When most people think about meditation, they imagine a person sitting in the lotus position trying their best not to scratch those itches. Because once you put yourself in the lotus position and stop moving, everything starts itching.
The bad news is that you WILL start feeling itchy the second you close your eyes. The good news, however, is that once you start doing it right (meditating), your itches go away. Your stressful thoughts go away. Your never-ending problems go away.
Everything goes away.
You and the universe.
You become one with the universe.
You feel connected to everything and you feel compassion for everything.
You still feel good about the good stuff, and bad about the bad stuff. But you stop hating, you stop spiting.
You feel at peace.
You realize how bad it is and feel compassion for those who do wrong.
You feel their pain and you understand them.
You understand they’re wrong, you understand that they don’t understand.
And you realize that you can’t feel anger anymore, you can’t feel bored, you can’t feel pressed or stressed.
And you’re fine with it.
If doing push-ups is a way of working out your body, meditation is a way of working out your brain.
Many people will feel a sense of entitlement once they start meditating. They will undoubtedly feel better than before, but unfortunately feel better as a person than every other person they know. That’s the path to enlightenment, but don’t worry, it will pass.
Meditation can also be done in groups. The most enlightening type of meditation I’ve tried was active meditation. We would spread out evenly in a large room, close our eyes, and let ourselves be guided by the guru. A tribal music would be beating away in the background, but as the time would pass, the beats would sound stronger and stronger. We would be instructed to forget about our thoughts and concentrate on our body. Later in the exercise we would move, jump and stretch with our eyes closed. That alone would disrupt us from our smartphone-driven lives. Half an hour later we would open our eyes and see everything in a new light. Our phones would now look more like a bunch of props from a movie scene, other people would look more like weird curious creatures in the wild. You would think everything would seem distorted, but the feeling we all got was that of clarity, focus, and presence.
I wish I could be more of a guide to you in your path to enlightenment, but this is not the kind of journey you read in article. The purpose of the article is to make you hungry, curious about your personal path, your personal development, and to make you realize you need a master, to teach you how to be better every day, and one day even outshine him, your master. You can!
What’s your personal experience with Mindfulness and Gratefulness?
Share your thoughts in a comment below, or respond in a new post and share the link.
I look forward to read your responses!
Over the past half century, the branch of performance psychology has grown dramatically to focus on studying the human factors that enable individuals, teams, and groups to reach their goals for achieving success.
Although it is often stereotypically associated with high-end performance in the arena of professional sports, the discipline studies human traits that can be applied to performance in business, performing arts, fitness, the military, or any other domain with a performance component.
In fact, many performance psychologists conduct their work with the goal of facilitating peak performance guidelines into best practice through even the most mundane elements of our daily lives and interpersonal relationships too.
What Performance Psychologists Do
Performance psychologists are given the responsibility of helping individuals or groups of people identify the positive mindset for developing, enhancing, and maintaining optimal human performance in a variety of applications.
Whether working with athletes, singers, dancers, actors, business owners, soldiers, leaders, doctors, or just average joes, performance psychologists will draw on psychological principles on the human mind to develop the mental skills that are needed to become better at what they already excel at. In most cases, performance psychologists will conduct research studies on attitude, motivation, personality, teamwork, leadership, visualization, self-programming, concentration, training, and other related domains to develop a toolkit that can be utilized to obtain peak performance.
Performance psychologists have the mission of broadening clients’ skills and training them with more healthy habits to perform consistently at high levels in pressure situations.
Different Career Options in Performance Psychology
Through their expertise in goal-setting and mental training for improved performance, these psychologists can find a wide variety of career options available in helping people work towards becoming the highest possible versions of themselves. As with in other branches, performance psychologists are often employed in academia as university or college professors to teach courses in the field as well as conduct research studies on peak performance.
However, those who take a practitioner approach are more likely to be found providing training insights in private practices, corporations, professional athletic teams, schools, community clinics, performing arts organizations, fitness centers, and even certain hospital departments.
How to Become a Performance Psychologist
Master’s degree programs are available to prepare students for careers in coaching or consulting work, but they will not fulfill the qualifications for becoming a psychologist. In most cases, performance psychologists earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree from an accredited graduate school to provide an adequate academic foundation for specializing their career in this discipline.
While there are an increased number of programs available specifically in performance or sports psychology, many aspiring performance psychologists are trained in counseling, clinical, cognitive-behavioral, industrial/organizational, or community psychology before choosing their concentration area in performance.
Students who are enrolled in APA-accredited doctoral degree programs will be required to complete a year-long internship, which should be completed in a setting related to performance.
As the difference between success and failure grows larger in our society, many individuals in sports, business, performing arts, and other high performance domains are increasingly seeking out psychologists with the skills to help them become better tomorrow than they are today.
Therefore, performance psychology is a developing discipline that strives to meet this demand by producing scientifically proven strategies for building stronger mental health and facilitating peak performance among top achievers in all domains.
Our negative mindset can feel so powerful that we can easily lose sight of how quickly they can change for the better. They are significantly more malleable than you may believe. It’s no understatement to say that they’re often based on a house of cards.
These mind hacks originate from the Stoic Roman philosophers Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel; they had the answers thousands of years ago, before contemporary mindfulness, as we practice it in the West, was even a “thing”. Stoicism has been brought to the mainstream by contemporary philosopher Bill Irvine, as well as mindfulness teacher Sam Harris.
Here’s the crash course: What has happened to us is tragic; our quality of life is considerably better than that of our ancestors, but we’re not happier than they were. This depressing phenomenon is called hedonic adaptation: We get used to new pleasures, sources of happiness, and conveniences, and, thus, our threshold for what makes us happy inexorably rises. We become increasingly dissatisfied even as our lives get increasingly better.
To me, this is nothing short of a tragedy.
Unfortunately, the consumerist culture in the United States encourages hedonic adaptation by always trying to get us hooked on the “next best thing.” You can see this when WiFi or your iPhone malfunctions for a few minutes, and you righteously and indignantly complain: we’ve become entitled to a luxury that’s only over a decade old.
Here are five hacks
1. Negative visualization is when you intentionally imagine how much worse your life would be if you didn’t have what you have.
This can refer to your relationships, car, friends, health, five intact senses, etc. It also includes imagining all the things that could have gone wrong, but haven’t. I know this doesn’t sound fun, but you’ll see its value after you do it, just like brushing your teeth when you just want to sleep, or going to work out even when you’re in a lethargic stupor. This seemingly basic mental hack directly lowers your hedonic set-point (so you’re happier more easily) and buffers you against the tragic hedonic adaptation ubiquitous in our society.
So, consider a few things, right now, that could be going wrong, or could have gone wrong, but haven’t. Imagine all the car accidents you could have had, earthquakes you could have endured, birth defects you could have been born with, or cancer you could have been diagnosed with, etc. Also, consider what it would be like to lose a few things that you really value now, such as your job, home, computer, spouse, health, and not having what you have.
This breaks the continual pattern of always wanting the next thing instead of savoring what you have. Happiness is really more about wanting what you have than getting the next thing.
2. Setbacks will happen; they’re inevitable.
You’ll bang your foot, you’ll get a ticket, a loved one will get sick, etc. So, wishing them away or dreading them simply causes more suffering. There’s an attractive alternative. Projective visualization is when you imagine a recent setback actually happening to someone else. This helps us get distance from our pain, because others’ misfortune is more palatable than our own. It really can take the edge off our own pain.
If a close friend had the setback, what would you tell them? How would you feel about what happened to them? It would seem more manageable and not as bad, right? This, in fact, is the “witnessing perspective” that we cultivate in mindfulness meditation. It’s also the root of loving-kindnessmeditation, in which we deliberately cultivate feelings of compassion and wellness for all.
This is also similar to video-game framing, in which you imagine a setback like you’re in a video game, and it’s a test of your resilience and strength—an enticing challenge to overcome.
3. Adopt the story-telling frame.
When misfortune strikes, which it inevitably will, instead of brooding and ruminating on it, you can document it, as carefully as you can, in a journal or free-association format (written or with spoken audio tech). Setbacks and misfortune, ironically, often make great stories. Humans have a unique affinity for stories; some of the best books and movies originate from this mental hack.
You can learn to put a smile in your mind by merely considering the happiest moments of your life or those of your loved ones. This takes a few minutes, and you can make it one of the best meditations in your life. Choose a joyous specific moment and imagine it visually, then access what you were hearing and feeling as well to engage all five senses to deepen it enough and savor your joy.
You can also picture your loved one’s smile in your mind, as well as literally hold your own smile. An additional hack: Holding a smile actually tricks our brain into being even happier (even if you know this!).
5. Embody the “last time” frame.
The sobering truth is that there will be a “last time” you do everything. I mean everything. With this in mind, even the most unpleasant and mundane tasks, such as cleaning your bathroom, being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or taking out the trash, can have a precious and poignant flavor to them. Slow down and enjoy them, at least a little.
Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy, as the name implies is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that addresses the specific emotional and mental health needs of children, adolescents, adult survivors, and families who are struggling to overcome the destructive effects of early trauma.
Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is especially sensitive to the unique problems of youth with post-traumatic stress and mood disorders resulting from abuse, violence, or grief. Because the client is usually a child, TF-CBT often brings non-offending parents or other caregivers into treatment and incorporates principles of family therapy.
When It’s Used
Anyone who has experienced a single or repeated experience of sexual, physical, or mental abuse or who has developed post-traumatic symptoms, depression, or anxiety as a result of the loss of a loved one or exposure to violence in the home or community can benefit from TF-CBT.
If a child or adolescent also exhibits serious behavioral, substance-abuse, or suicidal-ideation problems, other forms of treatment, such as dialectical behavior therapy, may be more appropriate as an initial intervention and can be followed up with a trauma-sensitive approach.
There is little evidence that trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy is the best intervention for adult war veterans with complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
What to Expect
TF-CBT is a short-term intervention that generally lasts anywhere from eight to 25 sessions and can take place in an outpatient mental health clinic, group home, community center, hospital, school, or in-home setting. Cognitive behavioral techniques are used to help modify distorted or unhelpful thinking and negative reactions and behaviors.
At the same time, a family therapy approach looks at interactions among family members and other family dynamics that are contributing to the problem and aims to teach new parenting, stress-management, and communication skills.
How It Works
The trauma-focused approach to psychotherapy was first developed in the 1990s by psychiatrist Judith Cohen and psychologists Esther Deblinger and Anthony Mannarino, whose original intent was to better serve children and adolescents who had experienced sexual abuse. TF-CBT has expanded over the years to include services for youths who have experienced any form of severe trauma or abuse.
Early trauma can lead to guilt, anger, feelings of powerlessness, self-abuse, acting out behavior, and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Post-traumatic stress disorder, which affects children and adults, can manifest in a number of ways.
Most likely as bothersome recurring thoughts about the traumatic experience, emotional numbness, sleep issues, concentration problems, and extreme physical and emotional responses to anything that triggers a memory of the trauma.
By integrating the theories and techniques of several therapeutic interventions, TF-CBT can address and improve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress in youth.
What to Look for in a Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist
Look for a licensed mental health professional with specialized training and experience in cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy as well as further training and supervised experience in trauma-focused therapy. In addition to these credentials, it is important to find a therapist with whom you and your child feel comfortable working.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for children affected by sexual abuse or trauma. August 2012.
Gillies D, Taylor F, Gray C, O’Brien L, D’Abrew N. Psychological therapies for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents (review). Evidence-Based Child Health. May 2013;8(3):1004–1116.
Bisson JI, Roberts NP, Andrew M, Cooper R, Lewis C. Psychological therapies for chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2013;12.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy National Therapist Certification Program website.