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  • Colin Jonov

Suppress Your Negative Emotions if You Want to Underperform

In the world of athletics, the pressure to always stay positive and suppress negative emotions is commonly preached. However, embracing these less-than-pleasant feelings can be a game-changer. It’s clear that negative emotions, when approached correctly, can drive personal and athletic growth.

Understanding the Role of Negative Emotions

Negative emotions like shame, embarrassment, anger, or sadness aren’t just hurdles to overcome. They’re signals — your psyche’s way of saying, “Hey, something needs attention here.” Instead of shoving these feelings aside, acknowledging and analyzing them can provide critical insights into our deepest motivations and fears. Suppressing our negative emotions doesn’t remove their damaging effects. If someone pumped you full of anesthesia and then cut you open, you may not feel it in the moment. Nonetheless, you are still being cut open and when that anesthesia wears off, you’re going to feel it. It is the same effect with our negative emotions. They deserve our attention. We need to understand the why behind them. Until we successfully learn to do that, our emotions will continue to carve us up consciously or subconsciously.

The Transformative Power of Shame and Embarrassment

No one likes feeling ashamed or embarrassed, but, don’t suppress your negative emotions. Sometimes the greatest changes in life come from shame, embarrassment, anger, or sadness. It’s easy to want to give up and quit to save us the embarrassment of failure. We think we are protecting ourselves by shielding us from challenge or adversity. However, such feelings, though painful, force us to confront our limitations and areas needing improvement.

We can control these emotions by first accepting them and then using them as an opportunity to self evaluate and to refine our techniques. This process of turning a negative into a driving force for improvement is what separates good athletes from great ones.

It’s amazing how the brain and body work together. It’s amazing how we are all uniquely different. We each have different thresholds of pain that cause a change of action. It’s easier for some of us to spark those great changes in life sooner than others. Pay attention to what you do and who you are. Increase your awareness of the decisions you make and the emotions that come with them. Once you are acutely aware of everything around you, then you can make meaningful change in your life and career.

Anger and Resilience

Anger often gets a bad rap, but it can be a potent motivator. It can energize us to push through barriers and address injustices or inequalities we perceive in our sport or training environment. The key is to channel this anger constructively rather than letting it manifest in destructive ways.

Constructive anger management involves recognizing the triggers and using techniques such as mindfulness to remain focused and use that energy to enhance performance rather than detract from it. Mindfulness carries a heavy buzzword connotation. However, at it’s core all it is is being fully present and engaged in the moment, without judgment and with an awareness of one’s thoughts and feelings. The more we can be in the present with our thoughts and actions, the more control we have over our thoughts and emotions.

We demonize anger because we don’t know how to control it. Once we learn to control it, it becomes the best PED we could ask for.

The Depth of Sadness

Sadness can sometimes feel like a weight that’s dragging you down, particularly after a loss or injury. However, embracing sadness can deepen our resilience and fortitude. It encourages a reflective state, helping us to reassess and possibly adjust our goals and strategies.

Sadness can increase empathy and connection with others, which are critical for leadership and developing an effective team culture. Athletes who show vulnerability often find stronger support networks, essential for long-term success and health. Again, I hate using words like vulnerable. Nonetheless, by being open about our experiences and either seeking help or using our experiences to aid others, we not only advance our own progress but also propel those around us forward.

Practical Steps to Embrace and Utilize Negative Emotions

  1. Reflection and Acknowledgment: Recognize and accept your emotions without judgment. Keeping a journal can be a helpful way to process these feelings.

  2. Seek Understanding: Try to find the root cause of the emotion. What exactly triggered your anger or sadness? What does this tell you about your values or your current state of mind?

  3. Set Actionable Goals: Use the energy from your emotions to set new, realistic goals. If you felt embarrassed about a performance, outline specific areas for improvement and track your progress.

  4. Develop Emotional Agility: Learn techniques to manage your emotional responses. This can include mindfulness, meditation, or simply talking things through with a coach, teammate, or trusted advisor.

  5. Seek Feedback: Share your experiences with teammates or coaches. Often, they can offer new perspectives or insights that can help you move forward.

While it’s tempting to maintain a facade of relentless positivity, the greatest athletes know how to use every tool at their disposal — including their negative emotions. By understanding and harnessing these feelings, you can unlock new levels of personal achievement and professional excellence in your athletic career. Remember, it’s not about avoiding the darkness; it’s about finding your way through the darkness, guiding you to greater heights.

To Building Fortitude.

Best Regards,

Colin Jonov, Founder & CEO Athletic Fortitude

P.S. Want to share your experiences or challenges with us? Reply to this newsletter or connect with me on social media @ColkyJonov10. I’m here to support you on your journey!

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