We can't start the conversation on athlete mental health or mental performance until we accept the reality that players are people first. Until we realize and accept that a great performer is a person, we won't even begin to reduce the stigma around athlete mental health, and prioritize the human beyond the performance.
In ancient history, it was widely understood that people were holistic beings, with a mind, body, soul, and spirit - not 4 distinct aspects of life, but 4 combined and intertwined pieces that all make up 1 whole.
We have largely misunderstood this over time by thinking that humans are created as 4 distinct pieces - mind, body, soul, and spirit...capable of being separated when desired. In reality, those 4 are 1...incapable of separation.
In modern day, most people are taught to treat the mind, body, soul, and spirit as 4 distinct parts that we invest into, but they are all intertwined as 1, in 4 different ways. Be sure of this - those 4 are 1, and they all impact each other. When we treat them as separate, we start to see athletes who appear to be excel, but when you peel back a layer they may be far from the picture of health and performance excellence.
We've seen this in the sports world when athletes, coaches, media or spectators focus on just the physical component of an athlete (and this is important to performance), but then try to ignore the mind, soul and spirit of the athlete. The trouble here is that physical performance cannot even happen without the mind, soul and spirit being engaged. Everything that we do comes out of who we are as people, not just performers. Everything we do is driven by who we are, and comes out of our whole being - mind, body, soul spirit. So as long as we are trying to get optimal performance by only engaging and training a piece of who we are (the physical), we will always come up short.
The richest lives lived are those who realize that we are mind, body, soul and spirit...all wrapped up in 1 human. Humans are not 4 distinct parts aligned side by side, with the luxury of ignoring whole sides of who we are in the pursuit of excellence. The mind, body, soul and spirit are all 1, they are all connected.
When we understand that we are mind, body, soul and spirit all wrapped up into 1, we can understand that players and performers are humans, not machines.
When we get this, then (and only then) can we start the process toward well-being and high performance. And the incredible thing is that the more we do realize that players are people first, the more we see performance potential grow.
It's all connected.
Players are people.
Mental Performance Coach
K. CASTLE HEALTH
Kelley Castle is based in the Bay Area, and is a Mental Performance Coach to collegiate, elite, and professional athletes in the United States, Europe and Australia. To contact Coach Kelley, please email firstname.lastname@example.org