Apr 112011

by Linda-Ann Stewart

After a few unsuccessful plays, an athlete can sometimes get caught in a slump. They start performing far less than their potential. For instance, a basketball player wouldn’t be able to sink a ball even if he was standing over the net. By this time, he’s trying too hard and it interferes with his reflexes.

Yogi Berra said, “A full mind is an empty bat,” meaning that athletes who over think what they’ve been trained to do interrupt their muscle memory. They’re out of the groove and can’t get back into it.

Have you ever felt like that? Does it seem that everything is conspiring against you? After a few difficult or disappointing episodes, your thoughts spiral downwards and nothing works. Eventually, you can’t even hold onto a glass of water without spilling it. You might find yourself saying, “I knew it wasn’t going to work out,”  “Nothing ever goes my way,” or “I always get the short end of the stick.”

You’re tying up all your energy in focusing on the problem and trying not to screw up. And since that’s where your attention is, you have more trouble. Just like an athlete mentioned above, you’re giving yourself negative feedback, and that instructs the subconscious to create more of the same.

Break that cycle and climb out of your frustration using the following tips:

1. Realize that difficulties will happen, no matter what.
The challenge is not to overreact to them. That just gives them more energy and more attention. It becomes a negative spiral into a self-fulfilling prophecy of disaster. Your slump may simply be due to the natural cycle of peak performance alternating with a period of recovery and regeneration. So relax and let nature take its course.

2. Check your overall stress level. Your underlying attention may be taken up with some difficulty in your life. Your mind has a limit in how many things it can focus on. Try and go beyond these limits and everything starts to fall apart. Your mind may be distracted by your other issues. Do some stress reduction practices like meditation, self-hypnosis, exercise, and others.

3. Step away from the problem. Relax. Take a walk, go to a movie, have a picnic. Let your subconscious work on it without your conscious mind trying to interfere and control the process. By shifting your attention onto something more pleasurable, it allows your subconscious to begin finding solutions.

4. Do something, anything, that makes you feel successful. If you don’t have any money coming in, get a job pushing a broom just to have the feeling of financial flow. Find a way to feel like you’ve accomplished something.

5. Write about your concerns.
Studies show that doing this can reduce the anxiety felt just before a test, a meeting or starting a project. Journaling can also help your mind process the information differently and solve problems.

6. Instead of being discouraged or defeated by a challenge, reframe it so you perceive it to be a pleasant experience. Change your attitude towards it to be something to accomplish, not dread. Viewing it from a different perspective will also bring much more creative energy to bear.

7. Write a list of what you’re grateful for
as a way of changing your mood. Studies show that gratitude is one of the best ways to form a positive frame of mind. It increases optimism and instructs your mind to begin looking for the good.

Athletes form rituals and superstitions to help get them out the negative frame of mind created by a slump. Instead of using that hit and miss method, use the more productive strategies listed above. They’re more helpful in the long run. Once you’ve been able to detach from and break the negative feedback loop, you can get back into the flow.


All of Life is for me and works for my best interests. When I encounter obstacles and disappointments, I remember that everything is conspiring for my Highest Good. Success is my natural state, and it is always at the core of whatever happens. I change my perspective to view any difficulties as temporary challenges that will ultimately further my success and well-being.

Copyright 2011 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved

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