Thursday, March 12, 2020

When you lose your nerve (and what to do about it)

It happens to everyone. You are ready to do some kind of activity (an audition, performance, competition, writing, etc.), but something happens. You choke, freeze, avoid it, maybe even break out into a cold sweat just thinking about it. The bottom line is - you just can't do it. It's like part of you wants to do it and part of you has both feet on the brakes.

Analytically you know you have what it takes to succeed (often you've succeeded at it before). Analytically you understand that whatever happened that resulted in you losing your nerve shouldn't stop you from moving on. You get frustrated, angry, guilty and so do those around you. What's happened is that you developed a problem with the mental game, you formed a belief that is holding you back.

What can you do about it?

Every problem has a solution. Here is something you can try to get your nerve back.

Write down what happened that made you lose your nerve (if you think you know). Draw a big red circle around it and then a line through it. Then DESTROY that paper - rip it up into confetti, burn it, whatever completely gets rid of it. As you are doing that, tell what's on that paper that it's done, finished, deleted, destroyed, whatever sounds good. What you are doing is communicating with the imagination part of your mind, that's where beliefs are stored.

Then, write down the reasons you should be able to succeed (keep it positive - not why you shouldn't be having the problem). Include successful experiences. After you've written them down, read them out loud. Then, close your eyes and picture (or imagine) doing those things successfully.

Sometimes this is all that's needed to get you back on track.

If that doesn't work for you, then you've probably got a serious mental block that needs to be released, but they can be release quickly. I use my mental coaching method to help people do that.

Go to: to learn more.

David Kenward - The Mental Coach

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Helping adults cope with tragedy

There are a lot of resources on how to help children cope with tragedy (such as the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut or the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado) but not so much on helping adults.  Like children, adults are stressed, upset, angry, fearful, sad, perhaps even guilty.  But, while children aren't expected to deal logically (and analytically) with sadness, fear and grief, adults are. However, when it comes to dealing with powerful emotions, it just doesn't work that way.

A lot of times when adults try to talk about it, they'll get logical platitudes such as; "all things must pass; it'll get better with time; every dark cloud has a silver lining; when one door closes another opens; it's part of God's plan;" etc. Or, worse, "get over it; suck it up;" and more.  The problem is, those are analytical, thinking responses to an emotional feeling and, just as I discovered with people choking in competition, trying to change an emotional feeling analytically isn't very effective.

When I look at people, it's like I see a pressure cooker. When someone is having an emotional reaction to a tragedy or other stressful situation, that pressure cooker is building up steam and, just like a pressure cooker has a relief valve, they have to let off steam or they'll blow.

What happens if they blow? Back on April 20, 1999 (the day of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado), I was taking a work break and going for a short walk. As I walked around a corner adjacent to a high-rise, a man in his late 20's hit the pavement after jumping from a high floor. That's something I'll never forget. When I got back to the office, my co-workers told me about the Columbine High School massacre. I still don't think it was coincidental. I can't even imagine what emotions, I'm guessing triggered from the Columbine massacre, led that man to take his own life. But, I do know that's the power of anger, fear, sadness, pain, grief and guilt, and that was one of those pivotal moments that led me to do what I do now, helping people let go of those emotions and find peace of mind.

So, what can you do to help? You can listen, validate and avoid judgements or platitudes. What that means is, even if you disagree conceptually with what someone is saying, you acknowledge that they have the right to how they feel. You don't have to agree with them. You're just validating that they have the right to how they feel. Sometimes that's really all we want (or need). We don't want someone to logically persuade us that we really shouldn't feel the way we do, but just acknowledge as a human being we have the right to our feelings.

I believe that's one of the best ways we can help adults reduce the pressure of the negative stress inside them, especially brought on by tragedies around us.