In this episode of The Edge I take you through an exercise I got from a book called The Confidence Gap that directly relates to basketball, but can be used in any facet of life. The goal of this exercise is to detach our thinking from our own identity. In other words, we want to create awareness of the negative thinking patterns we have that we identify with, such as these common ones:
“I am not good enough”
“I can’t shoot”
“I’ll never be able to do that”
These are all thoughts that we tie to ourselves, which affect our self-confidence. When we can detach from the thoughts, and see them only as thoughts, we start to realize the ridiculousness of our survival-based brain. It wasn’t designed to make you confident, successful or happy. It evolved to help your survive. We can’t believe everything we think and react to everything that we feel. This is an exercise to create space and allow you to refocus or choose an intentional response instead of living in a reactionary state.
The exercise is simple and follows these three steps
Step 1 | Notice It
All changes starts with awareness. If we don’t notice our thoughts, we can’t change them, and they become wired deeper into our subconscious.
Step 2 | Name It
Most of our thinking is “I’m never going to be good enough”. We use “I am” statements to identify the thoughts with ourselves, when what we need to do is detach from them. Again, we are not our thoughts.
So once we catch ourselves with a negative thought such as “I can’t shoot” we immediately name it by saying “I am having a thought that I can’t shoot”.
This step, alone, helps defuse our thoughts from our identity
Step 3 | Neutralize It or Refocus
In a practice or the middle of a game it’s really difficult to do this step. But, after a game or practice, when you’re reflecting or journaling, is a great time to take this step.
Once you name the thought “I am having a thought that I can’t shoot” you stop, pause and visualize this thought on a cloud (or a representation of this thought). Once you see it on a cloud you visualize it drifting away until it dissolves or disappears.
During a game or practice
In the middle of a game or practice you can’t do this step. But, once you practice this, you can get through these steps almost simultaneously and quickly refocus. The simple act of acknowledging that it’s just a thought is tremendously powerful and can put you back in the moment. By refocusing on a task outside our mind (taking the next shot in a drill or giving a teammate a high five) we are disrupting a negative thinking pattern.
So many times are unaware of the stories that we are telling ourselves. They are wired deep into our subconscious because they are formed by the tremendous amount of information that we are taking in each day – 95% of which is subconscious. So when we stop and create awareness we take the first step to the realization that the story we are telling ourselves, over and over again, is usually nothing close to the truth.