I’ve competed in Taekwon-Do for years now. I have been to three international events:
- World Cup in Italy (2008)
- World Championships in Argentina (2009)
- World Championships in New Zealand (2011)
Now I’m heading to Brighton, England tomorrow for the World Cup again. It is probably the largest tournament when it comes to number of competitors.
It is always surprising to me the amount of anxiety that comes with competing at this level. I always get nervous. I figure that it’s a good thing. I feel like being nervous means I have set proper expectations and that I care about reaching my goals.
When it comes time to taper off training and prepare mentally not being able to distract the sub-conscious with physical training unshackles the beast.
Three days out comes the time when I need to really focus mentally and deal with these issues. I find that this is one approach that helps:
- Identify your thoughts and feelings.
- Accept that these thoughts and feelings are natural.
- Mold these thoughts and feelings into motivation.
Here is how it works:
- I feel anxious, nervous and self-doubt creeps up.
- I have trained hard and set ambitious goals, I have many people who support me emotionally and financially, I am exposing my self to judgement and criticism in an environment that is potentially dangerous. Stepping out of my comfort-zone and not wanting to let people down are very good reasons to feel that way.
- I use these feelings to stay sharp. I know that every second leading up to competing can be used to relax, prepare and supports others. I feel this way because there is a real threat of me being eliminated on my first match or being seriously injured. It is a mechanism that signals to me mental and physically to prepare and perform.
Finally, it really helps to accept that anything can happen to anyone. Anyone can win, anyone can lose. Real champions and winners never allow themselves to feel safe and thus never fully suppress the anxiety that comes with competing.
Can this approach be used in different aspects of life? I think so. Anywhere I feel anxiety I feel like this technique really helps.
The Art Of Adaptation: Acceptance allows anxiety to be a useful motivator.