Post-trial blues.

goals mindset Aug 22, 2023

Have you ever felt worse after a successful weekend of showing? Ever felt terrible though your dashboard is decorated with ribbons?


It's a weird feeling, but it happens more than you might think. We have a fantastic weekend only to wake up Monday with the after-trial blues. How could that possibly happen?


Pressure to repeat

Sometimes enjoying a great weekend can lead to a sense of dread on Monday because somewhere, your brain is already wondering, "Can I do this again?" Suddenly, our minds are applying additional pressure on ourselves and assuming "everyone" expects us to be able to perform at that level weekend after weekend. We wonder if our Qs were "flukes" instead of evidence of our progress. We can go so far as to prefer having more modest weekends because it's familiar, and success can be scary.


Handlers often deny "fearing success," yet this is a common fear in sports and beyond. On the one hand, we crave improvements and Qs, while on the other hand, more success can come with pressure and expectations we aren't ready to meet. We can also feel like an imposter - unworthy of the "great weekend."


Other handlers are waiting for "the other shoe to drop," believing they can't have success without something going wrong to balance the scales. This thought pattern usually originates in long-ago experiences that we have brought into the show ring.


What these reactions have in common is that our success triggers a fear response causing us to re-think our success according to a long-standing perspective. But the perspective isn't useful, and our minds are being unhelpful, to say the least!


Try this instead: If you resonate with one of these scenarios, one of my favorite questions is, "Is this true?" Asking, "Is this true" gets your mind to look at the problem logically instead of emotionally or from pure reaction. Is it true that everyone will expect you to Q everytime you walk into the ring? No. Is it true that something bad will happen because something good happened? No.


When we can back out of the emotion and triggers and look objectively at the issue, we start to dissolve it. Knowing WHY a great weekend often leads to a bummer Monday is the first step at looking at your fears and saying, "No, thank you."


The power of chemistry

Chemically speaking, when life is good, we have a lot of dopamine and serotonin running through our brains. Dopamine is responsible for allowing you to feel pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation. 

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that mediates satisfaction, happiness, and optimism. A great trial weekend can have us walking on "cloud nine," only for those levels to drop and leave us feeling sad come Monday morning.


Try this instead: If you think your brain chemistry is working against you, schedule JOY first thing Monday morning. Get outside and look at the sun, do something fun with the dogs, or have something great to eat. Be sure you consciously increase your dopamine and serotonin. You might not get to trial levels, but you can make the letdown less dramatic.


Why we need goals

Medal-winning Olympians often talk about the depression they felt after winning - they accomplish their lifelong dream but don't know what's next. Handlers sometimes cross off major goals without having a goal to chase after.


Lucky for us, we rarely have just one major goal scratched in our planners. There are other dogs, other sports, and more to do with our dogs. Yet, retiring a dog or even crossing off that big dream can make us feel a little lost. And without direction or a plan, we can slide into non-action and Bummerville.


Try this instead: Savor those moments! Celebrate not only the "final" accomplishment but all the effort that led up to it. Set new goals - either with the same dog or another dog - and put yourself back into action. Grab your planner and get busy!


Thanks to the Q-follower who submitted this topic through my Ask The Q Coach page, where you can submit anonymous questions! Got a question or topic idea? The answer may end up in a newsletter or podcast!

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