In Motion Science™, when we speak of attitude, we mean being mentally focused, relaxed, and confident. Therefore, we will consider these three traits synonymous with the use of the word attitude. Moreover, this article only focuses on to how to achieve the correct attitude to enhance performance under pressure, even though there are other aspects to mental conditioning.
It takes training and experience to perform consistently under the pressure of either combat or sports, but it is somewhat easier in sports since there are rules. In combat, which can be considered a crisis, the uncertainty of the outcome can cause greater stress, thus there is greater difficulty in achieving the correct attitude.
And, rather than discussing attitude in relation to cognitive thinking, which cannot bring on real attitude change, we will discuss attitude in relation to emotion. It should be said for clarity though--the conscience mind does activate the catalysts, which effect emotion.
Attitude (focus, relaxation, confidence) comes from an emotional level, and conscience thinking cannot bring on emotional levels. As an example, no one can make you love someone. But, through the practice of mental exercises, a person can bring on any desired emotional state through visualization; that is, picturing clearly in your mind a time when you were acutely in the emotional state desired.
This is done every day in one way or another by most people. When a speaker prepares to start his speech, he may straighten his tie, line up his papers, or adjust his posture. All these things are anchors, which put him in the correct zone to begin performing. Or, a baseball pitcher will spit, scratch, and push his fist into his glove. He is getting into the zone and attaining the correct attitude to perform his task.
We will consider three mental zones:
The comfort zone is where we like to be and where individuals generally try to stay. Coming out of a comfort zone for even small reasons can cause some level of stress. Incidentally, coming out of our comfort zones must sometimes be done voluntarily, since this is usually the only way we can advance ourselves.
Sometimes we are forced out of our comfort zone into a stressed zone, like in a crisis situation. Some people handle these situations better than others do, but generally, there are two things necessary to take us from the stressed zone to a zone where we can function in a desired manner. The first thing is having something specific to do. This is usually preplanned, at least in our minds. The second is having some type of anchor, or trigger, to set this behavior into action. Again, some people can do this naturally. But, most knowledgeable people believe proper and detailed practice of a desired response is necessary.
These responses are trained through visualization, namely a method called Guided Imagery Training. Here is how it works.
Usually Guided Imagery Training is most effective when done with a trainer or facilitator. The trainer takes the subject to a relaxed state with some form of meditation. If the desired result is to have the subject respond with confidence to a stress situation, then the trainer will have the subject visualize a time in his/her life when the feeling of confidence was very strong. The trainer will ask the subject what was seen, what was heard, what may have been smelled, or any other sensory playback the subject can remember. The trainer will bring the subject as close as possible to the high state of confidence felt in the past, and when the subject is at that level, the trainer will ask the subject to activate a predetermined anchor. This could be something like touching the ear or closing the hand. The trainer will have the subject activate and deactivate the anchor a number of times. The feeling of confidence will then be tied to the anchor. A number of different responses can be tied to one anchor. As in our case, activating the anchor will bring on our desired attitude and will take us to our performance zone.
The effectiveness of this technique becomes better and better over time, and would be much more effective after, say 5 years, than after 1 year. Further, most people develop anchors to reach mental states to enhance performance and may not even be aware of it, as with the speaker or the baseball pitcher.
Through practice, we can learn to bring on a desired attitude in combat, even if, and rightly so, we are stressed and fearful. We can learn to be focused, relaxed, and confident using Guided Imagery.
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