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What Really Caused Andy Murray’s Meltdown?

By Guest Blogger Denise Holland (For over 24 years, Denise Holland has participated in high performance sport both as an athlete and more recently as Scotland’s National Coach for Netball. She has competed internationally and led National squads to world-class events in the sport of netball.)

As I listened to Andy Murray and read his comments and apologies following his defeat to Novak Djokovic at the final of the Australian Open, my heart went out to him!

I felt a deep sense of sadness as he talked about, ‘working harder’ to ensure he is not distracted by the behaviours of his opponent in future. Knowing a little about Andy and Jamie’s career from Judy Murray when she kindly spoke to the Scottish Thistles (Scotland National Netball Squad) on their journey to the Commonwealth Games 2014; my sense is that Andy actually works himself to the bone – tirelessly, striving, and pushing himself to the limits, both physically and mentally.

It seems to me that more of the same would only compound the problem, leading him further away from his natural capacity for greatness as a consistent tennis champion. You see, no amount of working harder from the same level of understanding (Consciousness) will make the difference. Andy would need to raise his level of understanding of how human beings operate, then insightfully he’d hear his wisdom around his game.

It’s no surprise to me that Andy feels that the cause of his so-called meltdown had something to do with his opponent? This is how we’re all innocently conditioned about how life works, but it’s a simple yet profound misunderstanding, and a trick of the mind. Tackling his capacity to control or manage his thinking about Djokovic’s behaviours is like changing the air filter of a car when it’s run out of petrol – he’s innocently looking in the wrong direction.

This article is not intended to be personal to Andy Murray, as what I’m alluding to, applies to all athletes and coaches, in fact all human beings!

So if it’s not about driving yourself harder, finding useful techniques to think better thoughts, change your mindset, or attitude during a performance – what is it that I’m pointing to?

Well, there’s a distinction I’d like to explore with you – the difference between intellectually getting that your feelings come from your thinking, and deeply understanding you’re living in the feeling of your thinking, (you’re the creator, via the power of Thought, of your entire separate reality). People in sport already work with the Thought-Feeling-Action connection. There are many traditional psychological approaches used, to manage a person’s thinking in order to produce mental clarity eg. Self-awareness, NLP, positive thinking, mindfulness, affirmations, self-talk, and mental skills.

As National Coach for Scotland (Netball), we too explored the inner chatter, negative and positive. We worked with various techniques and mental skills to quiet the mind and find our optimal functioning state. With determination and willpower, it appeared to be effective, some of the time.

But, I was always curious, when for no apparent reason we’d perform well below our skill capacity! Where were the cutting edge techniques and willpower at key moments in these matches?

Andy struggled with distracting thoughts after two sets of the most amazing, skilful, creative and powerful tennis…where did IT go? You don’t lose IT…IT just gets covered up?

You become disconnected from your Performance Zone state but it’s still there, it’s your natural state of well-being. So this profound misunderstanding…let’s continue to explore?

You innocently believe you’re inevitably going to feel the stuff happening outside of you; that external situations and circumstances will unavoidably give you a felt experience and it just doesn’t work that way.

‘I’m frustrated with myself for letting that bother me’

You get, unproductive thinking about the opposition’s behaviours, or performance and it seems compelling, highly relevant and real to you…the more you try to shake it off, the stickier it becomes! So now IT really needs fixing. Your usual tools don’t cut it and you take a huge slide into mental mayhem, unable to claw your way out of the downward spiral of adversity whilst the clock is still ticking.

Yet, you’ve seen this type of thing before with no adverse impact on your game whatsoever, but this time you’re completely de-railed; interesting that isn’t it? Ever considered this?

If that really did have the mechanism and power to ‘bother’ you, wouldn’t it do it every time? Why only sometimes?

I invite you to explore a whole new revolutionary psychological paradigm, raise your level of understanding, (Consciousness) of how life works.

It goes beyond information, knowledge, and the application based approaches to learning we’ve all become accustomed. It points towards the implications of understanding how something works on a fundamental, principle level.

Let’s re-look at the distinction I made earlier again:

The difference between intellectually getting that your feelings come from your thinking, and deeply understanding you’re living in the feeling of your thinking, (you’re the creator, via the power of Thought, of your entire separate reality).

When you deeply see that life works more like a projector than a camera, you automatically raise your level of Consciousness, you experience an entirely new perspective and you’re no longer a victim of circumstances on the outside. The inevitability of being affected by the environment, simply dissolves; very powerful indeed!

Can you imagine your performance never again being negatively affected by the opposition, media, aggressive crowd, or previous performance record?

No matter what is going on outside of you, you can have whatever experience of it you want – shocking but truth!

Let me share with you, how I was blown away by this understanding; 20 years in performance sport and I didn’t know this existed?

In 2008, I took the role of Scotland National Coach (Netball) to prepare a squad to compete with distinction (top 8) at the Commonwealth Games 2014. Each week I travelled from Kent, in England to Glasgow in Scotland. I gave the job every last inch of myself; worked very long hours, with passion and devotion in pursuit of achieving excellence and our team goal. As a way of setting the scene, during my time as National Coach, I gained 46 International CAPS, the Scottish Thistles moved up 5 world rankings, 17th to 12th and qualified for the CWG’s in their own right, an historic achievement for Scottish Netball.

In January 2012, just 18 months out, I found myself coming home from Scotland but this time for good; my journey with the Scottish Thistles had ended. My state of mind, at the time was one of confusion, disappointment, pain, frustration, and stress; I innocently believed the situation was causing me extreme anxiety.

But then, during the days ahead I was introduced to this new paradigm of how life really works and it transformed my life. I could deeply see that I was living in the feeling of my thinking about the circumstances; I was not feeling the circumstances directly.

WOW, I thought, you mean, I don’t have to think this? I don’t have to feel this way? I saw that my experience was coming entirely (100%) from within via the power of Thought. The situation was not the cause of my feeling state. In that moment, I felt a deep sense of relief; the burden lifted as I transcended my unproductive thinking.

I learned how I was using the power of Thought to create my world (experience) in that moment. Outside circumstances couldn’t be the cause of my felt experience, the situation on the outside remained exactly the same, I was no longer going to the CWG’s 2014, but my experience of it had changed; so enlightening!

Immediately after this profound realization, I felt an amazing freedom, beautiful clarity, a lightness, happiness and sense of gratitude for my time with the Scottish Thistles, and nothing but compassion, love and respect for the incoming coaching team.

This is a personal example of a rise in level of Consciousness, (understanding) which in minutes, not days, weeks, months or even years, gave me a fresh new perspective on the entire situation.  From this space of clarity I was able to access fresh new thinking…pure wisdom; how powerful is that!!

I can honestly say, I didn’t lose a single day from that moment, disappointed or anxious by my sudden change in career. Instead, with a healthy state of mind and bucket loads of energy, I became highly involved in helping sports people get the best out of themselves and lead high performance and fulfilling lives.

The power and impact of this understanding is way beyond anything I could have imagined as a National Coach.

Athletes and coaches tie themselves in knots over the stories/films they play in their head, and then project out. All this additional noise, simply gets in the way of our natural freewill to perform.

I hate to see athletes and coaches sabotage their performances and then suffer…they’re just doing the best they can with what they know, and how they think life works.

Can you imagine a world of sport where athletes and coaches are free from unproductive, ineffective, unhelpful thinking, most of the time?

Can you imagine the infinite potential for creativity; insights that completely evolve the uncluttered mind?

Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve noticed is possible by looking in this direction:

  • You’ll be able to perform even when your thinking isn’t co-operating?
  • You’ll simply observe the behaviours of the opposition but not take them to heart.
  • You’ll simply notice your opponent up in his head, distracted by his own thinking and perform up to and beyond your skill capacity anyway.
  • You’ll know there’s nothing to do, just stay in the game, simply play, BE the spirit of your sport!
  • You’ll play with an extraordinary sense of freedom; instinct and intuition, and make timely decisions that surprise even you!
  • You’ll no longer be caught up in the energy zapping mindset of what the competition means to you and your team/family.
  • You’ll master the required style of play for the match and never revert to old habits in times of pressure.
  • You’re perceptual field will expand allowing for greater cue detection.

We all know our best stuff comes out of the blue when we’re least expecting it! Ever wondered how this happens?

It’s unfortunate that Andy Murray feels the answer is to ‘work harder’. In my experience that’s simply not the missing ingredient to consistent great performance. Andy has everything he needs already within, he just doesn’t know where to look – to the nature of life itself, and the Principles behind the human experience.

Wishing you clarity to find your spirit in your game! If this resonates with you and you’d like to chat further, get in touch, by e mail: [email protected]

You can read more of Denise’s articles on her webpage http://class-performance.com/