How To Deal With Pressure

In life, we experience a lot of pressure. I often think I need to do a better job of handling it, so because of it, I looked at some work by Don Greene, a man who coaches people, like athletes and entertainers, to handle pressure and decided to write some notes. Here they are.

-Thinking hard leads to screwing up.

-There is a difference between panicking and choking. Panickers are placed in a situation they’re not familiar with and mess up because they’re not trained to think well when the adrenaline hits. People that choke on the other hand are expected to do well. They can make a minor mistake and it’s not good. Since they’re expected to be good, they are shamed. It shifts their brain from the right brain state to the left brain state, where we think in words, analysis, criticism and blaming. People use robotic movements by the left brain taking over.

-Athletes and musicians, people that learn any skill really, need to learn things with the left brain first and then after years and 10,000 hours of practice, they need to trust that their skills will work with the right brain and not use much thought.

-Yogi Berra once said about baseball that you can’t hit the ball and think at the same time. But many people can’t stop thinking.

-Sports psychology uses overcompensation, whatever the problem is you don’t ignore it or expect it to go away but exaggerate it and under safe conditions, learn how to deal with it. That’s mental toughness training. What you want to do in life is be prepared for the most extreme circumstances, be prepared for curve balls. This is because things won’t always go according to plan.

-If you’re in a situation where adrenaline hits, no matter if the situation is safe or not, the effects will be felt, you’ll be using it. It’s a quick process we have of perception to interpretation to action. The perception is a threat, while the interpretation is real danger or not real danger, and the action is taking a breath, running for your life, or dealing with it. It’s about how you interpret things. It’s the correct interpretation and correct action afterwards that’s the key.

-Greene suggests you attempt to relax your muscles whenever you feel pressure, because people tend to tighten up when they feel a perceived threat.

-Greene has an exercise. Think about what you would say to yourself compared to what you would say to other people and apply what you wouldn’t say to others to your life, because people attack themselves way more than other people and it’s not good to look at yourself that way. Positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement and we do it to everybody else more than ourselves.

-Mistakes are inevitable, perfectionism does not exist, you have striving for excellence though.

-Greene has a 5 step recovery strategy. First step is acceptance of the mistake. Second step is imagine where you tend to tighten up in a frightening situation or after a mistake and immediately try to relax those areas. The third step is to bring your mind back in the present, because with a mistake you tend to get stuck in the past and you can make more mistakes if you’re not in the present. The fourth step is to have a process queue and say simple things that will shut off your left brain and go back into right brain, words like “let it go”. The fifth step is to not try to make a huge comeback, get back to a level state first. These are all skills you have to practice.