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How to Get the Feeling That It’s All Going to Work Out

By: Brian Kim - September 29, 2007

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I’m sure that every one of us has experienced this feeling at one time or another in our lives. It’s a pretty hard feeling to articulate. At best, we can say that it’s a calm, knowing feeling that conveys a subtle, yet powerful suggestion that it will be all right, that it is going to work out - that being whatever issue we are currently dealing with at hand. That feeling does a really good job of walking that extremely thin line that borders confidence and arrogance.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could cultivate and develop this feeling when we needed to?

In order to do that, I want to first talk a little bit about tennis.

I play tennis recreationally but by no means am I an expert. I can hold my own in pick up games and I just like to play every now and then when I have some time. I think it’s a great sport and I highly recommend playing it if you haven’t had a chance to do so in the past.

When I first started playing tennis, like every beginner, I was horrible at hitting the ball. I would hit the ball over the fence, hit the net, and sometimes completely miss the ball itself. Tennis has a pretty steep learning curve and it’s pretty easy to give up on it as things don’t normally go the way you think it will on the court.

One day, a man playing tennis in the other court noticed my woes and gave me a really simple, yet effective tip. He told me that when the ball hit the court on my side, that I should say the word “bounce” and when I went to hit the ball, I should say “hit”. I didn’t really understand the logic of this, only that it would probably make me more aware and focused of when those events would occur, but I humored the guy anyway and tried it.

It worked pretty well.

Now obviously, I didn’t turn into Pete Sampras, but my strokes greatly improved.

Why was this so effective?

As a beginner in tennis, you tend to become “overloaded” with so much information from books, your friends, other players, and your coach (if you have one).

You’re told to do and remember things like:

Bend your knees, take your racket back before you swing, keep your eye on the ball ,set your feet, rotate your hips, follow through, shift your weight from your back foot to your front foot, grip the handle tight but not too tight, breathe, stay focused, and a million other things in addition to that as well.

What happens then is that your conscious mind becomes flooded with this huge checklist, and it starts to tell all these things to your subconscious mind so that it can in turn, carry out all the necessary actions to engineer the swing that you’re planning to do.

The truth is, your subconscious mind already knows what it has to do to execute a proper swing.

How does it know?

It would only know if it had access to data of how a proper swing should look like.

If you’ve watched a lot of tennis on TV, on the courts, from your instructor, from your friends, or even visualized how a great swing would look like, your subconscious mind is already taking in the data it needs to engineer a good swing. It knows you need to rotate your hips, pull your racket back, position the racket, hit the ball, follow through, and all the million other things in between. You don’t realize all that consciously (maybe you do for some of them), but your subconscious recognizes everything.

Therefore, when you’re trying to run through that checklist consciously while getting ready to hit the ball, what you’re mentally doing is “barking” a ton of orders to your subconscious, orders, for the most part that it doesn’t need. It needs some orders (which we’ll discuss a bit later), but for the most part, it doesn’t need the whole enchilada. It doesn’t need all that “noise” and confusion.

So when you’re concentrating on the ball and saying “bounce” when the ball bounces in your court and when you say “hit” when you hit it, you’re giving your conscious mind something easy to focus on, a simple task to do rather than mentally run through that huge checklist.

What this does is free your subconscious mind do to its own thing and the result is, it will naturally execute a swing based on all the data it has absorbed so far and obviously you won’t have a perfect swing, but you’ll probably have a better swing than before. You trust your subconscious to do all the work rather than tell it the million things it needs to do in order for the swing to come out the way you want it to.

Now the refinement process begins.

Instead of judging the results of your swing as “good” or “bad”, just notice what’s happening. Don’t pass judgment, especially “bad” judgment on yourself because the moment you do that - worry, fear, anxiety start to creep in and you start to not trust your subconscious mind to do its thing and that will screw everything up.

This is what players refer to as “choking” on the court. They start blaming themselves because they begin to judge their strokes as “bad” and in doing so, start to distrust their subconscious mind. Their swings become forced as the conscious mind tries to do everything at once to fix the situation and the result is that their swings don’t come out as naturally anymore.

Just take notice as to what’s happening with the results of your swing, but make it free of any sort of judgment on your part.

If you find yourself hitting the net too often, then make a mental note that you should bring your racket up more when you swing to give it more “lift”. Then do the same bounce, hit trick and then consciously tell your subconscious to remember to swing up a little bit more. The subconscious mind needs this feedback and after some repetition, it will remember to do this so you don’t have to tell it to anymore (provided the tip works).

In addition, more data on focusing on how to do the proper swing from viewing tapes or other players starts to feed more information to your subconscious mind to play with, and then you get this great refinement loop going.

You have data coming in and then you have your own data that you work off of, and those two areas start to slowly zero in on what’s working and what’s not working until your subconscious mind start to put together and develop a very reliable swing.

So what can we learn from all this tennis talk in terms of getting the feeling that it’s all going to work out?

Keep your focus on what you want to hit.

Keeping your focus on what you want to hit is so incredibly important because it cancels out the million other things that you tend to think about that clouds your conscious mind.

In the tennis example, the focus was kept on the ball, in terms of when it would hit the court and when you would hit it. It was simple thing to focus on. All the other million things that were on your mind were handed over to your subconscious mind to work on.

So rather than focus on exactly how it’s going to work out the way you want it to by running through that huge mental checklist in order to “force” it, just focus on what you want to hit and know it will work. Let go, which brings us to:

Trust the subconscious mind.

The more you try to “force” things, the more you stop the very process that’s going to help you in the first place.

Whatever problem you’re trying to solve, your subconscious mind is far more capable than your conscious mind in terms of helping you with the problems you’re dealing with where you want to cultivate the feeling that it’s all going to work out. Visualize what you want. Get as much information as you can about the solution. Let all that “stew” in your subconscious mind.

Then, start swinging.

Keep focus on what you want and start swinging naturally. Start implementing the ideas that your subconscious mind comes up with and you’ll naturally start getting some feedback in the form of results.

Learn to see what is going on, without any judgment from your part.

Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go the way you expected it to. Just see what happened and start to make some adjustments as you see fit. If you start to beat yourself up, you’ll “choke”. Worry, doubt, anxiety, fear will start to creep in and cripple the very thing that’s helping you get that feeling that it’s all going to work out – that thing being a very relaxed, yet concentrated subconscious mind.

Take small steps.

If you try to make a lot of adjustments at once, you can’t establish any baseline. You can’t establish a point where you can work off of. You can’t pinpoint what worked and what didn’t simply because you’re trying so many things at once.

By taking small steps in the form of making small adjustments, you can start measuring and start getting meaningful data of what works and what doesn’t, all of which begins to help your subconscious mind zero in on how to hit what you’re aiming for.

Get more data.

Keep focusing on what you want to hit and get more data on it. Visualize more. Take in knowledge via books, tapes, from other people. Couple that with your own small adjustments and keep on adding what’s working and taking out what’s not.

When you start to do all this, you start getting into that very beneficial refinement loop which will ultimately contribute to giving you that feeling that it will all work out, that you will hit what you’re aiming for.

When you keep your focus simply on what you want to hit, trust your subconscious mind, start swinging, see results for what they are without any judgment on your part, make small adjustments, get more data, and enter in that beneficial refinement loop, you'll start to get that feeling that it’s all going to work out.

Progress will be made. You’ll give birth to a lot of great ideas. Results will show you’re on the right track.

And when you start to get that feeling, you’re going to get another feeling to that as well.

A feeling that it’s only just a matter of time now before it all works out.

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3 Responses to “How to Get the Feeling That It’s All Going to Work Out”

  1. Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk Says:

    Yep, that’s what I’m doing in learning how to blog. I’ve been having a great time modifying my WordPress theme to make it the way I like it. I jumped right in, changing a bit at a time, integrating each new piece of knowledge as I went. It was going great until yesterday, when I noticed it wasn’t working quite right on Internet Explorer. Oh, dear! I had a lot of viewers that day, and that was the browser they were using. So, just figure out what to change so the theme works in Internet Explorer as well as Firefox, and keep the faith in the process, the focus on the long run. It’s a fun way to go through life.

  2. Neil Sattin Says:

    Hi Brian,

    Sometimes I wonder if it’s necessary to make ANY adjustments consciously at all. I find that by focusing on the “facts” of what happened (i.e. the ball was long) and trying to be in the moment the next time (your “bounce”…”hit” strategy) that the adjustments happen naturally - I suppose that they’re emanating from the subconscious mind. It’s easy to illustrate with the physical examples, but I believe that you’re right - the exact same mechanism is at work with all of our attempts at pursuing our goals.

    On a side note, have you ever read “The Inner Game of Tennis”? It’s a GREAT book for helping you get out of your head and get into the moment on the tennis court. I really really really recommend it.

    Here’s one of my earlier blog articles, where I wrote about my own “inner game” of tennis:
    http://www.neilsattin.com/blog/2006/12/victory-the-inner-game-of-tennis/

    I’m working on my site design, so please excuse the default template. If you click on the header you’ll be able to see some of the more recent personal development articles that I’ve been writing.

    Thanks for your work, and keep it up! I’m a recent discoverer of your site, and I appreciate the tips.

    -Neil

  3. Brian Kim Says:

    Jean,

    Good to see you doing it all with your blog.

    Neil,

    You bring up an interesting point and that’s certainly another way to go about it.

    And thanks for the book recommendation and for the article. I’ll take a look at both of them.

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