Mental Health for Aging Athletes

Lucho shared this video of David Goggins.

So many memories come back when I listen to Mr. Goggins share his truth.

It takes courage to change.

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Here’s something I learned from the greatest triathlete of my generation…

If your mental health relies on a physical expression of self then focus your drive on reducing your patterns of self-harm.

Everything else is details.

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Some useful details…

What’s your objective?

Can you answer this question simply, and immediately?

What’s your objective?

Not because of the the importance of whatever you are working on.

Rather, because working towards an objective gives structure to your days and meaning to your life.

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What’s your pattern of daily release?

Strength training and uphill cardio have better long-term outcomes than…

  • drugs and alcohol
  • violence and anger
  • outrage and gossip

…if your current alternatives aren’t working then consider…

Strength training and uphill cardio.

Whatever works for you… remove the things that prevent you from getting your daily release.

Pay attention to the habits that screw up tomorrow.

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What is your pattern of breakdown?

You are going to see this in your peers, before yourself.

The closer you are to the sharp end, the brighter your flame will burn.

Whether it is 5, 15 or 25 years… each body and mind has a limit to the amount of elite-level output it can sustain.

Similar to how you conditioned yourself to endure, train the capacity to appreciate when you’ve had enough.

  • Enough pain
  • Enough challenge
  • Enough exercise
  • Enough work
  • Enough glory
  • Enough winning
  • Enough dessert

Encourage the humility required to admit you’ve had enough.

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When life seems out of whack, return to the basics.

  1. Objective
  2. Release
  3. Patterns of Breakdown

Then…

  • Do good deeds in private.
  • Be your own hero.

Default Emotions – parents dancing with anger

A mother shares a story about her struggle with hate. Specifically, she is troubled by the thought that she hates parenting and, possibly, her preschooler.

She’s not alone.

Living with someone from birth to high-school graduation, I expect to feel every emotional state.

Hate, anger and rage are powerful, and unpredictable, emotions. In Boulder County, they are socially taboo when directed at children.

Therefore, as a parent, you’re likely to remember when you feel these emotions around children.

You are feeling everything.

You are remembering hate.

What’s your default emotional state?

Thinking about the five people closest to me. We default to…

  • Tears (flight)
  • Confrontation (fight)
  • Fear (flight)
  • Emotional shutdown (flight)
  • Anger (fight)

Within a preschooler, I can see all of the above within a ten-minute span!

Combine a rainbow of powerful emotions… with a lack of sleep… it’s easy to drop into my default emotional state.

In my case, I tend to pause and address later, when the energy has left the situation.

Take stock of your consumption of external emotions.

  • Media
  • Situations
  • Peers

How do the above make me feel?

Replace the negative with self-care.

  • Are you sure?
  • Are you sure you are feeling hate?
  • Are you sure your child is the reason for the emotion?

Frustration at my lack of skill can feel like anger.

How do skilled teachers feel about my child?

Negative emotions (hate, anger, rage) indicate a need to up-skill for the essential and out-source the non-essential.

Your mommy-guilt might be leaving you tapped out.

Being tapped out means your children, and your marriage, never see your best self.

Tapped out is a tough way to spend a decade.

 

Too Tired To Change

2017-02-07-08-11-04Picking up from last year

What one thing, if it happened, would change everything?

  • Keep it simple
  • Do it daily
  • Set a low bar for success
  • Stretch your limits when overall stress is low

As a coach, I used the above with regards to athletics => better nutrition, sleep and emotional control. Sort those components THEN crank specific stress.

The challenges facing a new parent

  • life stress never feels low
  • we start with no skills
  • we have unreasonable expectations

If you’re facing challenges in your family life then I’d encourage you to acknowledge the above.

Being honest about my limits makes it easier to improve and cope with the inevitable errors.

If I pay attention to my errors, they are most often associated with being tired. You may find this in all areas of your life (emotional control, food choice, substance abuse). You might also have other triggers (hunger, anger, loneliness).

I really like being tired. Fatigue settles my mind and helps me fall asleep.

The trouble comes when I make a big unforced parenting error before bed!

Errors can haunt my consciousness for days.

So this post is about fatigue and change. However, if you look deeper, it is about how I am choosing to invest my emotional energy towards success.

Our values are reflected in where we are willing to make an effort. My values are greatly influenced by peers, environment and media inputs.

So doing a better job at home meant letting go of areas, peers and situations where I used to compete.

Who sees my best self?

2016-12-12-15-26-09Another component of the price I pay is to whom I direct my best self.

The answer cuts through all the BS I tell myself.

What do my kids actually see?

What does my spouse actually experience?

2016-12-14-10-43-23When I was trying to win an Ironman, my coaches and training partners saw my best self. These people were essential to my success and we had a great time doing what it took to improve.

Not coincidentally, I met my wife while training. During the summer of 2004, the only place you could find my best self was training for triathlon.

With the birth of my first child, success was frustrating remote. My internal life was frazzled, angry and exhausted. If I opted out then I would strain my marriage.

So I asked for help and studied experienced preschool teachers.

I paid attention to what was required to present my best self to my kids, and my spouse. [the list I shared]

I paid attention to the conditions present when I fell short (noise, conflict, hunger, fatigue).

Noise and conflict are inevitable with young kids. However, there are many opportunities to get support and stretch my emotional limits gradually.

2016-12-07-06-56-12Like the rest of this series – it makes more sense when we invert the advice.

Good people won’t stick around in the face of our worst selves.

 

Effective Thinking

2016-11-10-10-45-33What type of life am I looking to experience day-to-day?

I’m going to wager that you’re not aiming for grief-stricken, miserable, sad or angry.

If you can feel a desire for happiness within your self, then perhaps you’ll be able to see it in your adversaries.

If you’re still having trouble then get to know the children of your enemies.

I’ve yet to meet a preschooler lacking basic goodness.

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2016-11-09-16-39-44-1I’ve also found that, regardless of the merits of my beliefs, a negative attitude has strong effects on the people around me:

  • Negativity fatigues the loyal
  • Negativity repels the positive

Loyal, positive people are jewels in my life.

It’s worth a lot of effort to keep them in my circle.

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2016-11-10-20-49-55It’s not always easy to see the source of my negative attitudes.

So I flip the question and ask myself, “Which actions generate a positive vibe within me?” and pay attention when I laugh out loud.

I have a good idea about my playbook.

Do you know your own?

2016-11-12-09-40-50Then it’s up to me to do the work necessary to live the life I want to experience.

Do good work.

Love-Loathe Tendency

2016-10-14-13-30-58Pay attention and you will notice something.

It is a tendency that happens after we make a decision.

As we are presented with more information, each “bit” will nudge us more towards a more extreme position.

Eventually, we’ll be quite certain of our righteousness.

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If we pause then we may be able to see a reality containing some grey areas.

To see things as they are, I try to keep myself in the middle by…

  • Being cautious about public statements
  • Exposing myself to good people who disagree with me
  • Practicing not offering an opinion
  • Explaining both sides on an issue when asked for my opinion

How to practice?

  • Start by seeing the tendency in “their” actions and statements
  • Then see the tendency in “our” actions and statements
  • Then see the tendency in “my” actions and statements

Ultimately, you may be able to feel the tendency as it arises inside you.

When I feel the tendency, I pause before acting on it.

Can you feel your discriminating mind?

I feel it in my heart.

Parenting – Define Better

2016-09-30-16-53-02I was at a wilderness first aid course and a fellow student asked me if I thought parenthood had made my life “better.”

I gave a wry smile and shared that the challenges of fatherhood have made me a better man.

I further shared that it has been hard to detect any improvement in the quality of my day-to-day life.

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However, it gets easier.

Our youngest turned four last month and that marks a key shift in our house. The younger kids (4 and 5) still get worked up but we have the skills to avoid making the situation worse.

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Later, I had the realization that I’m basing my evaluation by looking at a single thread of my life.

You see, we only see the life we live. When I think more broadly, I’m certain that there are many threads that are tougher than living with three loud kids that love me.

For personal happiness, it pays to ask around, get out of the house and serve the community.

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I have accepted that I am a good parent but I might not be good at parenting.

What I mean… I can provide the kids what they need but there isn’t the ease, and joy, that I see with mastery.

I shared this observation with my parenting mentor and she gave me a wry smile!

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After eight years, I’ve come to the realization that my limitations are OK and I pay attention to them.

My motto…

When I am struggling with someone then it’s a sign that I’m spending too much time with them. So, it’s better for me, and them, if I stay under the irritation threshold.

Keeping a little in reserve can be easier for a guy (see my piece on Mommy Fatigue) but my wife sees the benefits (for all of us) of acknowledging limits.