One of the most common topics I field questions about at allexperts.com is how to overcome mental blocks, asked by the gymnasts or the parents who are exasperated as they watch their child dealing with irrational fears (either conscious or unconscious fears).
There are many ways to address the issue, but it really all boils down to changing beliefs. These beliefs are really just thoughts that have been pondered often, usually with some strong emotions to reinforce them. For example, a child who is afraid of doing a back-handspring after their round-off may have had a scary experience while doing it that then associates the feeling of being frightened with that skill.
Once a thought becomes a belief it is like a filter through which we see the world. People are said to see the world through rose colored glasses if they always see the best in everything. It’s really because they believe the world is a great place that they act this way, and no amount of rain can change their belief or ruin their day.
I was amazed a few weeks ago after doing circles on the pommel horse at the Prescott YMCA when a young coach walked over and said “You don’t understand how jealous I am that I can’t do those anymore.” He was probably 15 years younger than me, so I said he could do them again. He told me didn’t have the pain tolerance in his shins to do them again.
This young man had developed a belief that in order to do circles you have to go through the pain of hitting the horse with your legs over and over until you can make it around all the way. But a week later I spoke to him again and I mentioned that he could work circles on the mushroom, then put the mushroom on the floor, and by the time he is able to do circles on the floor it would be easy to do on the pommel horse. A light went off in his head as he realized that would get around the whole kicking the pommel horse phase, and he said he would try it later (he was coaching at the time).
Yes beliefs are powerful (consider all the wars that are fought over religious beliefs), but they can change as you are willing to think differently. Free your mind, and the rest will follow. 🙂