Getting Hooked

When I was growing up, there was a popular song by the group Blue Swede, “Hooked on a Feeling.”

You know, the one that starts with:

Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga
Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga
Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga

Followed with the main hook lyrics of: “I’m hooked on a feeling. I’m high on believing…”

So, what does that have to do with mental fitness? It’s all about ‘getting hooked’.

The movie “42”, which details Major League Baseball’s first African American player Jackie Robinson’s life has a prime example within it about being ‘hooked on a feeling’ as shown through pitcher Kirby Higbe.

Higbe gets hooked on the feeling of fear. He interprets the situation as being dangerous.  He fears embarrassment, disappointment, and gets in his own head.  The Mental Toughness Myth – “You have it or you don’t” hooks him like a fish and he never recovers.  

Learning how to unhook starts with being aware of your process. You need to be aware of what triggers you, the feelings it creates, the thoughts, and the signs it’s impacting your performance. Knowing that pattern helps you to change one thing and interrupt the pattern.   

[Check out page 2 of the bonus PDF below to map out your own ‘getting hooked’ process]

In one of our earlier weeks, we talked about rebooting your brain.  Higbe, in this example, would definitely benefit from a reboot in this perceived fear situation. Rebooting your brain is an emotional coping skill; better emotional coping skills mean better mental fitness. Better mental fitness increases the chances you have to perform well in pressure situations.  

Consistent mental fitness develops when we learn how to problem solve cope.  Higbe needs to learn how to problem-solve and adapt.  He cannot see the difference between who he is as a person and what he is doing on the mound. Hooked. His performance – a blessing and a curse: if he performs well, he’s great and so is the world. Conversely, if he performs poorly, he sucks and the world sucks.    

He could make huge leaps in his performance if he took on the Mental Toughness Myth. The leap would require him to change his beliefs about the world and his place in it. His performance is hooked to who is as a person. This problem often shows up in coaches and athletes no matter the level (though not always obviously). Changing it requires courage and attention to detail. It involves changing the meaning of what you feel away from being a conviction by an invisible jury to being something you do. 

One free simple thing you can do to help yourself is this: Make a list of the people who care about you.  Put everyone in your relationship pyramid–acquaintances and above–and identify three reasons that they care.