In Sport,Life,Business or Careers there are many talented individuals the world over who for some reason fail to achieve  their full potential. There are man with natural Talent, Intelligence or some of other seemingly great Gift that allows them to have the edge over most other people in the same field. The same goes for just the basic events we all go through in daily life such as overcoming Relationship issues, Fear issues, Confidence issues or Health issues.I could go on, but I'm sure you get the point right? One of those key areas that holds us back is own Mind and the "Blocks" we put in our own path. More often than not many more people have "Defeated themselves" before they've really had a chance to start. The purpose of this post is to discuss what we can all do to overcome these blocks and to give you some tools to help get your started.

Recognising that you have a Mental Block

Mental Blocks are any kind of Thoughts or Emotions that impede your ability to improve, solve problems, make decisions or take action in a manner leading to success. It's very important in all areas of life(not just Sport) that we remove our Mental Blocks if we want to achieve potential and get what we want. Mental Blocks can lead to us feeling helpless and powerless without control over our actions. If you've ever reached a stage where you have any repetitive thoughts such as "no matter what I do I just can't seem to get through this".."No matter what I do I just can't seem get this right".."No matter how hard I try I just can't improve". These are the tell tale of the Mental Block. Lets be clear this has nothing to do with cliches like "you obviously don't want this or you would never have failed"...or "it obviously wasn't the right time/place/person etc or we would never feel this way". Mental Blocks can be overcome. The fact is some of sabotage ourselves at the crucial moment before what we've always wanted comes into being,and so we miss out on success.

Freewill..or not?

Now you may be wondering why I bring this up in the conversation about Mental Blocks, but this point is key to understanding what I want you to take from this article. You may well have seen those situations in sports for example when a Golfer nears to his final put then just can't sink it, when the Footballer steps up to take the kick then produces a miss at the most important the kick of the season or that time in your life when you came so near yet tumbled at the last minute. These are the situations where you talk to yourself in the following ways "I was just so close"..."If could just have done this or that at this time". These are the situations where your blocks either Psychological or Emotional somehow allow you to work yourself out of that crucial winning moment. Freewill plays its part, but with all the best in the world Mental Blocks still play their part too.

There was once a famous Soccer player who had a Mental Block when taking Penalty Kicks. He had a habit of missing in big games at the worst times. When asked by a Sport Psychologist what went on within his own head at the time  his response was the following  "I took action by wanting to step up I willing to take responsibility for this, but at the last minute I froze..the Goalkeeper looked huge and the net looked so small I couldn't see a way to get the ball into the net". As you can clearly see from that example with the Soccer player he was experiencing a Mental Block stemming his distorted view of the "hugeness"of the Goalkeeper. Freewill is defined as "the power to act without constraint of necessity or fate, the ability to act at ones own discretion". This is a valuable aspect to have not jut in Sport but in all areas of life. The ability to make our own decisions without being held back. Now in a Sporting context your Mental Block will influence your own ability to act and determine the end result just like the Soccer player.

I want you take three key concepts from this before I explain the tools you will need to give you a helping start :

1-We can only exert our influence or control those areas which fall inside of the boundaries of our Mental or Emotional Block. Once we have a Mental Block we can no longer control what is outside of it, it has determined our decision for us.
2-When we repeat Mental Blocks and repetitive statements that go with them they become behaviour "Models" for our body and our nervous system to act upon creating the habit of repeated negative behaviour which then takes root as false beliefs.In order to break through we need to acknowledge that we are experiencing false beliefs.  
3-As a result of number 1 the first step to take is a debugging of our Mind and Mental process. Our own mind has mechanism's for success if we keep it healthy it will do a lot of the work for us.
4-Once we have debugged our Mental processes we can then work our Strengths. This where actually begin to improve our own ability and become resistant to further Mental Blocks. 

I'm going to give you a few tools to help you overcome the Mental Blocks that occur most frequently.

Performance Tool 1-Mental Debugging

The first step to peak performance is to debug our Mind and remove any mental or emotional behaviours that may be hijacking our behaviour process leading to Mental Blocks.When we think of a negative situation and we have negative mental  responses, negative emotional and negative physical responses this our body and mind telling us how we previously felt in the situations. This is acting as a block giving us a signal to avoid those situations. This is not always a bad thing when it protects us repeating past mistakes, but it is a bad thing when it stops making positive progress. The key factor is to acknowledge that we don't want these reactions all the time. When you face a situation and ask yourself if you want these reactions then answer "No", you are then clearly being hijacked by your negative responses. When we are hijacked we tend to blow up situations and distort the facts, and so situations become distorted by our fears or negative visualisations. You need to remove those and rewire your brain so the logical part takes over. This will bring you back into control and present to you a more constructive accurate perception.

Step 1-10 Minute Mental Dump
Give yourself the freedom here to let the negativity out for 10 minutes only. Grab a piece of Paper and write down every negative mental thought and physical reaction you're having to this situation. Let your Mind run free and dump all of this onto the paper. Once the ten minutes are up take the paper and rip it into to pieces then trash it. Make a choice to no longer allow those thoughts into your head. after the ten minutes.

Step 2-Refocus with Logic
Take another piece of paper and write down the facts ONLY the clear facts of the situation. Write down the positive points, write down the areas where you have concrete control to make a positive difference in overcoming your situation. This will calm your Mind and allow the logical parts of your brain to address your fears by providing a clear logical solution. This is key for breaking negative belief Cycle.

Step 3-Use Breath Control to change your Physiological State.
Changing the Mind is only half the battle. We need to change the Physiological responses and one of the best ways to do that is with a technique called "Tactical Breathing" this a method used by serving Special Forces officers that has served me well. 

Breath in through the Nose for 4 second count
Hold breath for 4 second count
Breath out of the Mouth for 4 second count
Hold breath for 4 second count

Like this...

Breath in 2 3 4
Hold 2 3 4
Breath out 2 3 4
Hold 2 3 4

Perform up to 10 cycles of this and this will control your Heart rate and your Physiology in times of high Stress, Anxiety and Fear.

Performance Tool 2

The fastest parts of your Brain work on Auto-pilot so you need to give it positive Habit to fall back on. You need to add positive habits for your brain. This is where we strengthen the Mind and build on the other tools. Here is a simple process you can use to begin to retrain your Auto-pilot:

Step 1-Acknowledge the conditions you want to change

Step 2-Define the Positive Opposite eg Fear into Confidence.

Step 3-Visualise yourself performing with the new behaviour in the situations you want to change. The write a detailed description of your new set of behaviours. In our example write a very detailed description of how you will act confidently.

Step 4-Repeatedly bring this to the front of your Mind and use affirmations to reaffirm your new habits using the following technique. Use a Stopwatch and repeat affirmations in the "I am-I see myself-I feel myself"  format of affirmation. Back to our example"I am confident".."I can see images of myself acting confidently".."I feel confident now and can really feel myself become more confident as time goes on" Simply keep the format and replace the word confident with your behaviour or quality.

Performance Tool  3-Worst Case Scenario Practise

How do you know you're ready to take the step and the blocks are coming away? The best way is always to do a stress test against worst case situations.  One of the techniques I picked up from a NASA operative when I found myself on a course was "Worst Case Scenario Practise". Take a note pad and pen. Visualise the worst case scenario which we usually associate with Mental Blocks, Fears and Failure. Note down your reactions be they Mental, Physical or Emotional. Also note your attitude towards dealing with situation. Is your attitude positive? Can you look at a situation calmly with good physiology(calm, relaxed) and solve it?Most Importantly do you remain in control and cope with the situation? If the answer is yes then you're ready to face your situation and  training is successful. If the answers to these questions No or they are negative then repeat your mental training with the tools given until you pass the test.

I've given you three simple tools you can use to debug your thinking, keep the logical Mind in control, control your Physiology, build new habits and behaviors. I also provided you with a tool for testing your response to worst case scenario. 

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