I am Tom Paterson, I am a swim teacher and a member of North Ayrshire's Masters squad. Most of you may know me and for what I’ve been through recovering from a serious accient with head injuries that left me learning how to walk and talk again.
I wrote about my experience in a book 'This Journey We Travel' which would be a good learning for you in the swim squad returning to competitive swim training. Being so long away from swimming may produce anxiety about fitting back in and losing all your previous training.
After my accident I lost just about all of what I done and had. I had to relearn with anxiety in not knowing if I ever would be anywhere near what I was before.
Nobody could tell me what permanent injuries I would have and what I could recover.
Pushing this anxiety aside, I WAS going to get back into the swing of things and better than I was before in having a life again.
With unknown diagnosis with my head injury at first, how severely would I be disabled? If so, I’d find out what athletic activities I could do and master, and so on. I wasn’t going to let this win. There are times when you think the odds are against you but stick to your vision of what you want to achieve. I will tell you how to deal with obstacles that can make you lose your aim.
A part of athletics is in your mind. I am now a master of psychology and a Neuro Linguistic Programming life coach. I teach folk HOW to achieve. This feeling of anxiety is natural. Its natural in what you say to yourself and what you say, your body responds.
If you say you will never be good anymore, your right, your body automatically looks to fulfill this. That is the same principle I said to myself, I’m going to be better than I was before. I opened-up the possibilities to succeed this, as opposed to be limited and get nowhere. So be careful of the language you use to yourself: Your body follows the instructions good or bad.
Being swimming athletes, you may use strategies to avoid this distraction. If you don’t deal with it, ‘Self-sabotage’ affects or destroys what you have built up. This ‘self-talk’ is a big deflater. The self-talk’s role is to protect you. It can work overtime and makes you miss success when you find yourself out your comfort zone. This self-talk can be too protective. Athletes learn to shut that up: Do not encourage it, focus strongly on achieving your aim.
The effects of this self-talk can prevent you achieving your target.
A great way of dealing with self-talk is called a ‘pattern interrupt’: Break this destructive pattern. You can only hold seven bits of information plus or minus two at one time. George Armitage Miller (1920 – 2012).
Count in your head, then reverse it, or sing a song to yourself at different speeds. This will fade out this negative self-talk: It’s effective. The more you do it, the stronger at pushing the destructive self-talk away, so it becomes easier and easier. It makes your focus stronger and faster and does not let it have a chance to throw a spanner in your thoughts with self-sabotage.
You do not give it a option to be heard. Change its severity and not letting it win. Focus intensely on achieving. Yes, listening to yourself can be important and its being aware of when it is negative that’s important.
Do not let anything interrupt you in your target or goal. Do not give ‘that self-talk’ a chance to overcome.
Swimming, or something which is important to your life, requires a goal/target to aim for. You can see what you want to achieve, instead of aiming blind which becomes just luck.
Have a target or goal and see, hear and feel you achieving it. What will you achieve for yourself in you succeed? What will you gain personally or socially?
We all need something to aim for. That is one thing that we have in common in going after through goals what was considered difficult or even impossible. The four-minute mile always comes to light in it was impossible before it was broken, now it’s done often. Have an aim and commit yourself to achieving it.
Overall, it not about trying to climb Everest in one big footstep, it lots of small steps that lead to your big goal. We need these small steps to get there.