Sports Psychology in Quarantine: Denise Shull
Welcome to Corona Virus Sports. This is with me. Today will be talking to Denise Shaw Performance Strategy and Decision Advisor on how athletes coaches and others in the sports community can have better control of the pandemic by understanding their feelings. Denise will also provide us with useful tools in order to have a healthy mind during quarantine Sigmund Freud. The father of psychoanalysis ultimately emphasized the importance of the unconscious mind and the conclusion that the conscious rules a person's behavior. It's not just there hovering with us. It actually governs what we do. The goal of psychoanalysis therefore is to make the unconscious conscious during turbulent times such as endemic where our daily lives have been affected. The common thought is that we forget to pay attention to the unconscious and our feelings. Are we scared? Our we anxious. Are we angry? All of these feelings though present are often put aside for the sake of the things that we need to do during the day. Here's Olympic fencer and medalist race. Imboden I think just missed getting the beat me. I think as an athlete the place that I could be unabashedly knees like when I'm competing. There's a lot of instagram messages. Going round about everybody working out. And everybody's staying positive. I think there there is truth to that But I think there is a lot that's going on said which is a lot of us. Just don't have the thing that we care about the most and that's our sport for an athlete coach or even a team executive these thoughts are continues due to the uncertainty of what comes next when will return to action. How can I draft a player knowing I did the right thing? How can I make sure I keep my employees without losing money? All legitimate worries so what if instead of disregarding these feelings we actually learn to own them and appreciate them in order to gain strength and that's what today's episode is all about joining us. Now is Denise Shaw Performance Strategy and Decision Advisor. Ceo of the rethink group helping and Guiding Professional Athletes Traders Broadway directors chief investment officers by optimizing the psychological side of risk. She's also the inspiration to the character of Wendy Roads. The performance coach on Showtime's Drama Billions and the author of the book market. Mind Gains Denise. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for having me Louise. This is going to be a really interesting conversation. I feel let's begin. Let's tell her audience a little bit about your impressive work and what you do. What exactly is a performance strategy and decision advisor so it started out as performance coaching with traders. Meaning helping them do their best job helping them. Make the best trades but as time went on I found myself over and over and over again working with chief investment officers or CEO's in trading firms dealing with their strategy decisions in their business decisions so I realized it had become more. Well it'd become as much about the executive decision has had become about the individual's performance under pressure. So I tried to encapsulate that in what we call me an unusual role so it's hard to come up with a good title in. May Be an unusual role. But it's a very important one. Especially when it comes to thinking about high-performance how does your work relate with professional athletes? Well the core of what we do is around a neuro science our brain science which how the brain really makes a decision which is different than how we've all been taught like basically you have to have emotion to make a decision which is certainly different than people think in the trading world in the sports world. It's been about like control what you can control. Think positively but sports by definition is full of frustration and disappointment. I mean you know you're GONNA lose right. Guess someone's GonNa win helping athletes deal with the whole spectrum of the emotions. They're going to have their desire to win their frustration when they don't their frustration when they make a mistake giving them lots more understanding I but strategies and tactics to navigate all those feelings so they don't turn in the slums mental blocks so the other component to that are the decision makers in sports. Your Jonah your coaches. How does that apply in terms of your work? What I realized was that the decisions coaches in GM's particularly in the NFL make. Because I happen to be a football fan. But obviously it's true in any sport is a lot like the decisions that hedge fund managers make. I mean a guy that runs a hedge fund is buying different stocks or different currencies or bonds and like trying to create a mix that will ultimately create a result. They've got data about each asset. But they don't really know how it's going to behave in the future so it's kind of similar to picking Players For that Matter Picking Coaching Staff. So there's this risk reward aspect that concept goes on and hedge funds. I realized is the same kind of decision scenario that a GM or coaches faced with the GM and a draft and coach and a game. Really like which player which play. Are we going to use now? And how is that going to play itself out over what I expect to happen? We figured we could take that same. Sort of risk reward thinking that we do and work with and hedge funds and help The managers if you will in professional sports executives on the professional sport time so it sounds to me that there's a theme here where the in many ways the best possible way to prepare is to continuously do dress rehearsals right. Just completely be aware of every single possible scenario. Would you say that that's one angle to look at it? It's definitely went and got to look at it. I will tell you though that people have a tendency to do the like logical or factual piece of that without doing the feeling piece of it. So like if you liken it to athletes visualizing their their performance you know. Some of them tend to go through. Okay I'm going to do this and then I'm going to do that when I work with them. I try to get them to focus on. It's GonNa feel like this and then it's going to feel like that and you know then something's going to go wrong so that they've walked through the the you know the interruptions that happen in anything right in advance and if you do it on that feeling level as opposed to just using your intellect it's way more effective right. The overall need to connect emotionally will ultimately. Help you direct yourself through through whatever it is. Let's Talk. I mean you know that's very important for what's happening right now. Join Epidemic the sports community going through major changes. We talk a lot about the physical when it comes to athletes. But I don't know not enough about the emotional as you just said how psychologically speaking is the pandemic effecting ask athletes as their seasons traveling their daily lives are impacted. Yeah I've had occasion to talk to quite a few of them and one thing they all say as it comes in waves on some days. They're fine and they're optimistic and you know they're just GonNa you know it's going to work itself out and another day is they're more frustrated and maybe depressed but a number of them have seen that it sort of comes and goes I mean. Of course you're like an Olympic athlete. I mean there's just no way around the phase of some intense disappointment and frustration. I have won Olympic athlete. Who finally qualified in three tries? And it's like oh my gosh. Now I have to wait another year. I mean they will still qualify can count but they're so often taught control. Focus on what you can control in for all of us. Were out of control here right. We're just waiting to see how this thing unfolds. And if that's anxiety producing what I try to teach people is just like accept it recognize what the feeling is? Call it what it is. And there's this weird magic that when you just name feeling for what it is. It tends to to contract or dissipate and become less disruptive. 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Do you use certain athletes as examples in order to see how best to utilize it? I don't probably so much because the reason why is I'm very much about all your thoughts and all your feelings are okay. I don't want you judging any of them. 'cause if you judge them they're actually going to get bigger and get in your way more. Just accept them and try to understand where they're coming from other times. You get information and believe it or not you can get motivation like give your frustrated about a performance where a lot of people in sports psychology would say. Shake it off. Put it behind you. Nothing you can do. I'll be like okay. Let's dig into what that frustrations really about. Is there a lesson in there that you can use to prepare better to train better to motivate you? Were really like weird and radical in that way and that. We're we're like fine with all these so-called negative emotions and like let's find the information let's like figure out how we can use that energy to take to the next level. That is really interesting. Embracing your vulnerabilities. Basically which is I mean. I was an actor for more than fifteen years. And that's literally what you learn in that right right right if enacting you go about trying to like sound like the character without using your own feelings. It's not gonNA work right. You're gonNA come across as like artificial and stilted and all of that. What the neurosciences learned is like how we feel is essentially the basis of everything right. But we haven't been taught. I mean you've taught that and acting but generally people have not been taught that in fact they've been taught the opposite. That's right yeah and even when you're an athlete that sometimes is the case. Where you like? You just said most sports You know staff tell their athletes just put it on the side whereas your saying no. Let's let's face it. Open that door and welcome it because I will loan a few weeks ago. I was with a group of athletes and the coaches there. And the coaches like you know. I just tried to teach everybody to fail in. Forget it you know if you make if you fail forget it and go on to the next thing and they were all like we use fail and forget it we use failing forget it and then like I kept the conversation going one guy says well you know. Sometimes I can't quite forget it and I knew it. I know it talk about what you do. And you can't quite forget it so denise this is also a great time I think to maybe help our listeners during that pandemic especially sports fans but it doesn't necessarily need to be limited to that. What are some of the things that we can do? A daily basis as we look to remain healthy during quarantine and when I say healthy I don't just mean in the literal sense but as you're mentioning. The emotional sends the mental. What can we do from from your teachings? Well the I just be gentle and forgiving yourself like this is super hard. It was bizarre when we first started right and for the first week or two is probably kind of interesting. You know Gosh I get to stay at home and I have more time and like you know now. Whatever we're into it six weeks. This is hard so it's okay for you to frustrated with it and like I always say that a superpower is being able to answer the question. What am I feeling? And why am I feeling it but answered accurately and when you do that you tend to okay? Well I'm feeling this way or that way because of this or that and it has this crazy way of going with and you go okay. Well I've just gotTa deal with that or I feel like this and you know tomorrow feel different. You know being able to say you're frustrated or depressed or worried about how this GONNA work out. There's just some magic about just acknowledging that that helps you to function better and by the way the research shows that that's a much more healthy way to function that people who are able to put the so called negative emotions into words. Those people are less blocked by those negative emotions. We all think the opposite if you admit to it. It's GonNa get bigger if you admit to it. It's GonNa get in your way you know. It's the exact opposite. Plus it takes like a level of skill and maturity to just like going to the dentist. Nobody likes dentists. You have to go there hold your mouth and Utah hurt you know but we all do it. Well that's the same with tolerating feeling frustrated or worry or a bit down in the dumps overlake. When's life's going to get back to normal? So it's a long winded way of saying. Just be gentle with yourself you know. Don't judge your thoughts and feelings like okay. This is a strange weird time. Be Weird to not feel bad and as you mentioned after going to the dentist you feel better for which is the same situation. Yeah Yeah I mean I really think. It's a super power to be able to admit to fears. Frustrations disappointments tolerate them. The physical experience of it analyze it for like what it's really about. Get some piece of information out of it but just the sort of focusing on it tends to make it. Go Away then. A lot of people are really scared to do it. They're scared if they feel afraid that they'll they admit to fear they'll feel like terrified and being mobilized or if they Mitt feeling a bit depressed they'll be immobilized like doesn't really work like that. Do you think it's become a little bit more of a challenge? Now just because of the social digital age that we live in all wheel almost become numb to so many things because we're constantly on a devise or looking at a screen. Tweeting or an opposed. Yeah Yeah Yeah. That's a really great question. I mean there's a million ways in the world that people avoid their unpleasant feelings certainly like twitter is one of them or instagram. It's distraction you know. It's in the category of distraction in fat. All Bad. It's just you know like everything in moderation kind of people are afraid of feeling their feelings and whether it doesn't really matter whether it's one of my hedge fund guys whether it's an athlete feelings are fundamental to like human behavior performance perception decision making fundamental to everything. And so the better. You get at them. The more you think about them like a data set and try to understand what they're all about the more effective. You're going to be no matter. What realm you're operating it. Truly great advice. Feel your feelings and embrace them. I like that I leave. That has the motto of the Denise Show a performance strategy and Decision Advisor. Ceo of the Rethink Group. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for having me. Christiane it. The power of the mind those beyond confidence it's also about appreciating vulnerability. So whether you're an athlete or a sports writer an Avid Fan Gordon Executive. The outbreak essentially became an equal opportunist when it came to distributing excited but as denise tortoise if we are able to use these worries to our advantage and make them our ally we can grow in strength and determination to Denise Shull for joining me today. We'll continue bringing you these stories throughout the corona virus crisis. If you like what we're doing please recommend to a friend or family member and leave a rating and review on Apple podcasts. It really helps others find the show. You can listen to Corona Virus and sports for Free. Wherever you get your podcast and be sure to subscribe or follow us for the latest episodes. Stay safe and we'll see you next time.