The Anxious Athlete
It has taken me weeks to write this post and months to actually post it. Not because I lack material or am facing "writers block" on my very first piece. It's based off of my inspiration for this project - hesitation based off of what others might think, what this may say about me.
I started experiencing problematic anxiety roughly 10 years ago. At its toughest, it really affected my way of life and the experiences within it. In recent years, I'm happy to say that the hard work I've put into understanding the mind and learning how to cope and overcome problematic anxiety has paid off. It's something that is still present, as it is in all of us since it is a regular human emotion, but my perspective has improved so much that I wouldn't call it troublesome anymore.
As an athlete who competes at the highest level of my sport, fastpitch softball, an overly anxious mind provides an added challenge to facing 80 MPH drop balls on the outside corner. Not an opposition per se, but an element that I need to navigate in order to execute my skills successfully when it matters most.
So what has this this looked like? For me and many others it manifested as a busy mind, one that often producd worrisome and negative thoughts.
"What if I don't get a hit here?"
"If I don't do well my teammates will think I'm no good"
"I don't have it anymore"
If this was a buddy of yours you'd slap him in the face, right? But this is just part of the narrative that an anxious and worried mind can throw at you on a regular basis. Actually, these sorts of thoughts show up for even the most outwardly Rock-like individuals.
The good news is, there is a way to relate to these troublesome thoughts that won't have you hanging up your cleats, folding your tent or giving in. I've found it through meditation and its active form, mindfulness. Quite simply, present moment attention without judgement. I.e. Being with what is actually happening in real time and seeing what your mind is saying with some space while getting more in tune with your true-self, rather than the stories the mind will tell you.
I've put a lot of study and work into understanding the mind, how it works to protect us and how we can learn to navigate it successfully. I look forward to sharing these learnings with you as they have helped me navigate a successful sporting career and an ever evolving life outside the lines.