Tag Archive negative emotions

Dealing with negative and self defeating emotions

William James: “The deepest craving of human nature is to be appreciated.”


Adapting to the difference between being a high school sports star to being a bench player in college requires a significant adjustment in attitude if you are to profit from your collegiate athletic and academic experience. Not getting into the game or the same positive attention as players the coaches have identified as top performers or missing the support of a parent or friend, can lead to stress, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy, all of which can get in the way of your best performance on and off the field.


Fortunately, there are several simple ways of dealing with negative emotions.


  1. Adopt an “attitude of gratitude” by writing down at least one positive in your life each day, preferably as the first thing you do in the morning. Realize that what you have achieved as an athlete is a rare gift, rewarded by continued participation at the collegiate level. Also give thanks for the people who helped you develop your skills and also those who supported you in other ways. Use visualization to recreate mental images that extend and reinforce your positive feelings.   Commit to expressing gratitude in writing or orally at least once a day to someone in your circle to extend positive attitudes to another. Learn to be grateful for lessons learned, when you realized a positive outcome after learning a hard life’s lesson and appreciating your improved performance as a result.


View the following 2-minute video with inspirational text, music, and photographs on the importance of gratitude.



  1. Identify the conditions under which you feel stress. Feelings of stress are normal and often habitual, triggered by situations with similar characteristics. Make an effort to identify recurrent stress-producing situations, such as being yelled at by a coach or fellow player.   This will help prevent your emotions from escalating and allow you to choose a more rational reaction to your circumstances, one in line with your goals rather than expressing spontaneous emotions, which may lower others’ opinions of you as a committed team player. As an alternative, focus on the compliments you receive for effective plays and replay your best behavior in your mind as reinforcement.


Open the link below for a concise explanation of how flight or fight responses are both automatic and temporary.




  1. Use the 6-second rule to help strong emotions fade and rational thinking return. See the video on the link below. It shows that strong emotions typically last 6 seconds or less. Try counting to 600 by 100s, while taking a breath and exhaling slowly. These actions allow you think about how to react in terms of your goals instead of your emotions.




  1. Analyze your own and teammates’ behavior and do an honest and realistic self– Ask the following questions and rank yourself on a scale from best to worst in comparison to teammates.


  1. What do the top performers do to improve their competitive skills? What do the worst performers do?
  2. How do the players who have the best relationships with fellow players communicate with them? The worst?
  3. How do players who have the best relationships with coaches communicate with them? Behave in practice and in competitions? The worst?
  4. What can I learn from players with the best academic records?


  1. Commit to a self-improvement plan modeled on what you have observed about the players who get the most playing time and those who are most respected by coaches and fellow players. Just as the most dedicated players continue to fight for victory when losing a game, you need to continue to pursue your best interests even when discouraged. Find a fellow player to serve as an accountability and study partner who will let you know when you are fulfilling and failing to fulfill your improvement plans. This will encourage you to maintain a commitment to your plan.


  1. Talk to your coaches and counselors about your athletic and academic goals and plans. Your school recruited you because the coaches saw you as someone who could help their team succeed. Take advantage of their goodwill and experience by sharing your goals and asking what they believe you can do to achieve them. Agree to a plan of action and follow up by letting them know what you have been doing to implement the plan. They will appreciate and recognize your efforts.


Being selected to play on a collegiate team is a privilege that only a small percentage of high school athletes are given. When you are feeling down, take positive action. Keep a gratitude journal, define positive goals for your athletic and academic performance, and commit yourself to implementing plans to allow you to continuously improve on several fronts.   Appreciate small victories, taking positive credit for each step you take to achieve your competitive and academic goals.