Do you love an emotional spiral?

bouncing back mindset Jan 16, 2024

Oh, the power of the downward spiral! Something "bad" happens in the ring, and then we come out and can talk about nothing other than the mistake. The emotion of the error spins up a frenzy that seems to leave an emotional mark long after the run. It takes on a life of its own, and down into the spiral we fall.


So what's happening at this moment?

Our mistake (or dog's mistake or whatever) occurs in the ring, and we react - maybe not externally, but in our mind. There is a rational component (this thing just happened) and an emotional component (THIS THING JUST HAPPENED - UGH!). Often, our emotions are stronger than our rational thoughts, hence the big feelings.


Feelings are powerful- they make some memories "stickier" than others. In other words, we are more likely to remember events with emotional ties rather than neutral or low-emotion events. It's like that Maya Angelou quote: "People may not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel." (Paraphrased!) The vast majority of our memories have emotions anchoring them.


What's that got to do with our runs?

When we mess up in the ring, we have an emotional response - it's natural! And a lot of us really like to process our emotions aloud or with others as it makes us feel less alone and understood. Yet when we walk out of the ring and immediately dive head first into reliving our mistake, we risk elevating the emotion and reducing the rational. And before you know it, we've taken one mistake and made it memorable and likely blown out of proportion.


Instead, if we walk out of the ring and promise to "unpack" it later, we cut off that emotional spiral and review our run with a more rational perspective. Whether we have a video or not, we can review our run and consider "just the facts, ma'am" to get a more honest picture of what happened.


The surprising (but fantastic) benefit

In addition to seeing our performance more honestly when we remove emotion from the picture, we also allow ourselves to reset faster for the next run. Think about it: without all the emotional spinning, getting refocused and back on task is more accessible. Our feelings can be messy, and it's hard to perform at your best when inside you feel "messy."


No, this isn't easy - we are emotional creatures! And many of us really like the excitement (aka drama) and reliving an event over and over again. Try two things to get you started. First, promise yourself you will unpack your run later and won't forget any details. I use the word "promise" VERY specifically here because you must say it, mean it, and follow up. If you don't believe yourself, it won't help (you'll call BS on your own promise!).


Second, pause and interrupt your habitual reaction. Most likely, this is a habit and one reinforced by other handlers at the trial. In other words, a LOT of us need to break this habit. Pause, remind yourself of your promise, and interrupt the pattern. Later, follow up by reviewing your run and making some notes. You'll be pleasantly surprised by your ability to see the mistake with a clearer perspective and less emotion. This, in turn, will enable you to develop a plan going forward. Less emotion, more perspective!

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