It could be the play that you’ve run a dozen times in practice that falls apart during a game. It could be the referee who seems to favor the other team of the kid who knows better but still takes a cheap shot on the field or says something out of line. And all of a sudden, you are ready to explode.
That’s when you battle to NOT do or say something that will get you thrown out of the game. And you haven’t even gotten to the interviews after it’s over!
What’s happened to you is a full-blown amygdala hijack. That’s when the emotional control center of the brain unleashes a chemical response to tension or threat. In an effort to keep you safe from perceived danger, the amygdala floods your body with cortisol. When that happens, your field of vision narrows, your ability to think clearly is impaired, you have a knot in your gut, and your mouth can have a hair-trigger. Anger floods your consciousness and self-management is at an all time low.
Oh great, exactly what you don’t need. So, what can you do?
Actually, it’s simple – as soon as you feel the symptoms of anger or frustration begin, take a deep breath. That’s it. Breathe deeply. The anecdote to the chemical flood is to re-oxygenate your brain and engage the logical part of your brain. That allows you to override what’s happening with your emotions. Yes, you can. It is simple but not necessarily easy. Emotional self-control takes practice. Over time you can choose it over an emotional meltdown. And the control you model to your team becomes a skill you teach them. That’s when emotional control becomes a competitive advantage.
Don’t let emotions get to you. In fact, make them work to your advantage!
Photo credit: Thanks to Disney Movies for this personification of ANGER from their delightful movie, Inside Out