You feel sad. You think, “I am sad,” which is an accurate assessment of the situation you are in. Or is it? You are happy. You think, “I am happy.” Right? What if both of these statements are wrong. How often do we allow what we feel to dictate how we perceive the situation? Maybe a better question is, how often do elite athletes, star performers, concert soloists, or Navy seals allow what they feel to dictate how they perceive the situation? Often times we can lose out on growth opportunities when we only listen to our emotions. Having a healthy mindset regarding what you experience in life can go a long way in growing as an individual and this can also be directly applied to sports.
Learning from the negatives
When we are going through negative things in our life often we will try to do whatever we can to get out of that situation. This is a very natural and appropriate thing to do, however if we do not consider some of the positive ways that we have the opportunity to grow through that experience we may miss out on valuable insights into our life. If we can stop thinking that something is a good way to do it based solely on the results we can increase our chances of learning from mistakes. Many times we take a loss in a League of Legends and look to external reasons why we had that outcome rather than consider our own actions and what we could have done differently. “He mods” “DDOSer” “uninstall the game noob” are often comments that are thrown around in the atmosphere of a loss. It is a common thought process where we blame external forces for things that go wrong while turning a blind eye to some of the internal reasons why something happened. In turn we also attribute the positive things as being due to our own actions and will shout to the high heavens how we “carried the game” in League of Legends and disregard the wards that were placed or pressure that was used in other areas of the map that directly contributed to the positive outcome of the game. This is called attribution where we look at what we experience and make decisions about why it occurred. There are many variations of how attribution can manifest itself such as the self-serving bias and the fundamental attribution error. Understanding how and when this type of thinking occurs can be an opportunity to build self-awareness and increase the chances of learning from a negative experience.
Failure is your friend
Often times when we have an experience that is considered a failure we look at ways to reduce the chances of that “failure” to happen again. There are many ways that we can work towards this and often we are “successful” in that endeavor. What I am proposing is to consider shifting that automated way that we can approach this scenario and look to what the “failure” has done to benefit us. This is something that will take a concerted effort to do as the typical reaction is to use what we feel as the way to ascertain what is happening. I would argue there are times when this way of processing a situation is allowing emotions to have too much of an influence over a person’s life. I am not implying that in every situation our feelings are always incorrect, but too often we do not take the opportunity to think past the emotions and consider other alternatives to what the outcome of something can mean.
Focus on what you can control
A loose example of this would be League of Legends players such as HotShotGG from CLG and Reginald from TSM as they have moved from a player to a coach and/or leadership role in their respective organizations. The mindset when each of them thought about and ultimately decided to step down as a player could have impacted them in a negative way if their belief was that this decision was the outcome of being a failure as a player. Instead they (and this may be more in line with how they interpreted their situation) used the information that their personal level of play was not good enough for success in the LCS and placed the time and other resources they had used for the LCS to building their companies. By being aware of their own play rather than focusing on external factors their opportunity for success is increased as they now can use a different avenue to work towards the same goal, being at the top of LCS play. The reason for this is they are no longer using their resource of time in a setting that is not producing positive results. Without the potentially perceived “failure” of poor LCS play it may have taken longer for the realization to occur, which may have limited the success of either one of their respective products (CLG and TSM) as they would not have the same level of development that they currently possess.
Another more recent example is the jungler Amazing deciding to leave TSM and move back to Europe due to not feeling like he could effectively adapt to life in Los Angeles as the coping skills that he was used to were not available and he could not find a sufficient replacement for them. Some could look at this as Amazing “failing” by only seeing the outcome and not considering the context. Amazing took the experiences that he had in L.A. such as limited ways for him to cope as he had in Europe along with the success that he had while on TSM as information towards what he controls which is his choice to stay in the United States or return home. If he would have based his decision solely on the fear of what others would think about his choice he may have made the decision to stay and allowed his emotions to dictate his actions. If he would have only considered the success of winning the North American LCS and going to the quarterfinals at Worlds he would have disregarded his own mental health and may have limited his performance ceiling. Instead he recognized that the current setting he was in was not conducive to the type of lifestyle that he was looking for and used that information to make the decision that would increase his opportunities for success in both League of Legends and his personal life.
Lastly, to return to a setting that many can relate to, remember that when a person plays ranked games such as solo queue in League of Legends the games that are lost can be interpreted in so many ways. If the reasons are not looked at with an objective mindset you can miss out on opportunities to grow in what you had control over which is your own play. Applying this mindset allows for opportunities of growth in League and may also result in an objective look at changes in your life that may need to occur, such as playing a different game than League of Legends as this could produce a higher possibility of achieving the results you are after.
Chris is a practicing therapist. For more information or to contact, visit his page. If you are a sport scientist or psychologist and you are interested in writing for Mind Games please contact us.