We all want to be that cool, calm, collected person. Unflappable in high stakes environments. Like Tom Brady looking left while bombing the football right with 3 seconds left to win the game.
Mental toughness, grittiness, resilience, perseverance. It’s all about mindset and mind over matter, right?
Mindset is important. Tracking our thought patterns and our beliefs and views about our lives and the world around us is important. Crucial actually. But we can’t access it until we’re in-tune with our bodies.
This is called interoception – the ability to sense the physiological state of our bodies. It’s our internal felt sense. Like knowing we’re about to get sick before we are sick. Or knowing that we’re hungry or tired.
Have you ever felt so anxious about something that your heart feels like it’s going to pound out of your chest? Your hands start to sweat when you reach out to shake someone’s hand? You’re so focused on your clammy hand and the shakiness that you feel that you lose access to what you want to say?
Have you ever surprised yourself when you opened your mouth and what came out was a little harsher than you intended?
The key to being cool, calm, and collected? Start with the body. We neurologically can’t out-think a flood of sensation, whether it’s nervousness or tears. Physical sensations can hijack our brains, making it impossible to access our cognitive functions of logic, planning, and reason.
The better our interoception, the better we are at noticing early signs of stress, anxiety, and anger, and the quicker we can circumvent these things before they take us over.
Our brain is constantly processing signals from our physiological states. The more attuned we are to what our bodies are telling us, the better able we are to manage our thoughts and our responses to the external world.
Tom Brady has an unflappable mindset when he’s on the field. His access to that mindset, however, comes from incredible attunement with his body. His breathing, his posture, his eye movement patterns, his nutrition, all of it. He’s not surprised by a wave of anxiety or frustration because of his laser focused body awareness, which allows him to stay calm under pressure.
To access the mental toughness and stress resilience we want, we must learn to work with the body. We cannot control our minds with the mind and can't bypass the body.
It’s mind WITH matter, not mind over matter.
Cheers to better living -
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