When I am working with my clients or students and talking about state management, I often refer to people psyching themselves up in all manner of ways and to my students I often mention a comedy series that Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge) wrote and performed in called “Coogans Run” and in one of the episodes “The Dearth Of A Salesman” he plays a salesman called Gareth Cheeseman who is about to give an important sales presentation…

To gee himself up before it, he stares into the mirror in his hotel bathroom and tells himself with some ferocity, that he is a tiger…

It cracks me up every time I see it…

Andre Agassi in his rather revlatory book, Open, described a process he put himself through before every game of tennis in order to prepare for that match. While in the shower, he would tell himself how great he was, how he could do anything and that he was unbeatable.

Agassi admitted that he was psyching himself up, (albeit in a slightly different way to Gareth Cheeseman) and that he was filling himself with “hot water courage.” He also believes today that he would have never been able to achieve the amazing feats that define his career without these talks he gave to himself.

What Agassi was doing is using his internal dialogue for his own benefit, encouraging himself. He used this to increase his productivity.

The reverse is also true of course… It is common sense that if you think negatively then you will feel negatively about yourself or something you have to do. But common sense is one thing and reality is another. It is very easy to get trapped into patterns of thinking that are self-defeating and in some cases debilitating to your ability to carry out even your daily activities.

On my hypnotherapy training diploma, I teach cognitive restructuring.

Cognitive restructuring is the process of identifying irrational and crippling thought processes and replacing them with thoughts that properly reflect the situations a person is dealing with. This method helps a person to manage the emotions they are experiencing and to make decisions that increases their quality of life.

Albert Ellis, Ph.D. and Derek Harper, Ph.D., who are considered pioneers in the field of Rational Emotive Therapy, claimed there are three ways to affect your emotions. One is through the use of drugs and chemicals to alter your mood. The second way is through physical exercise as it regulates hormones that help the body to manage stress and the brain releases chemicals that give the person exercising a high. The third is monitoring one’s thoughts and making sure they are in sync with ideas that will keep you alive and enjoying the life that you are living.

I have extensively used all three options… And can tell you from first hadn experience that the use of congnitive restructuring is by far the bext way to go… Even if I am running London marathon again this coming weekend!

Professionals who use Rational Emotive Therapy do not discount the use of physical exercise and prescribed drugs as an effective mean to manage emotional states, especially for serious mental disorders. But as the pioneers Ellis and Harper claimed, drugs and exercise are not looked upon as permanent solutions to dealing with feelings and emotions that a person may feel overwhelmed by.

This is a good time perhaps to mention that much-used parable “Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish and he can eat for a lifetime.” In this instance, teaching a man to fish is teaching him how to restructure his thoughts in order to stay sane and see things rationally.

Cognitive Restructuring can also be used even if you do not have ‘serious problems’ coping with emotions. Andre Agassi used it to build himself up, reminding himself of all of the times he had overcome odds and had succeeded at higher than average levels.

And Gareth Cheeseman demonstrates that even complete prats can get this notion to help them toward peak performance… So I am certain you can 😉