At this point in the season a lot of wrestlers, even very confident wrestlers, are having self doubts before and during competition. Is it wrong to have these self doubts or negative thoughts? Does it mean that you lack confidence? Does it mean there is something wrong with you?
The thoughts/doubts are NOT the main problem. The problem is how we perceive these thoughts and the way we respond to them.
Here is a three step process to effectively deal with self doubts:
(1) Accept the negative thoughts and self doubts. You are NOT your thoughts. You are NOT mentally weak because you doubts. Your mind is a reflex organ. It reacts to everything. Doubts are natural and human. You need to accept that they will pop into your head from time to time.
(2) Prevent a snowball effect of negative thoughts/doubts. We can not control every thought we have but we can take control of our thought patterns. When we have self doubts we need to shift from negative to positive. We do this by creating a word, phrase or action to refocus on the positives. For instance, before a match we may think “What if I lose?” Usually wrestlers panic at this point. They start to wonder why the thought popped in. Then the mind tends to create all kinds of “logical” reasons- “I didn’t prepare enough” “This kid might be better than me” “I lack confidence” “I must be too nervous” and on and on. After the first negative thought use a phrase or action that breaks this pattern of negativity (i.e. No I am ready now!). Use this as often as you have negative thoughts. It will help to break up the pattern and create a pattern of positive thoughts.
(3) Focus more each day on your strengths and things that you have been doing well. Most wrestlers are terrible at this. We always hear about what and how much we need to improve. Leave the improvement process for practice. Write down the areas you need to improve on and spend the rest of the day thinking about your strengths and positive performances. The better you get at this the less negative thoughts you will have before competition. Sounds easy but takes daily effort and practice.