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When It Rains, It Pours

BY TAYLOR BROWN
PHOTO BY ED MORAN

For many rowers around the world, one of the most important competitions of their rowing career is nearing–The Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. This race, also known as the “last-chance regatta” or “the regatta of death,” represents the final path to the Olympics.

For a select few, it will be a Cinderella story come to life. They will win. They will qualify. They will represent their countries in Tokyo this summer.

But for many, they will compete and come up short. Inevitably, there will be disappointment and likely some tears.

After experiencing loss, athletes and teams should allow time to process their emotions. It is OK to not be OK.  It is healthy to acknowledge the pain of losing. 

The first step in learning to navigate challenging emotions is befriending them.  Learning how to explore, understand, and regulate emotions after a hard loss is one of the primary factors in resilience. A useful method is to follow the acronym RAIN.

Recognize: Try saying out loud what you’re feeling: “I am feeling frustrated.” Naming your emotions enables you to define what you’re feeling more precisely.

Acknowledge: When you experience an intense emotion, accept it and give yourself permission to feel it. Instead of ignoring emotion, which causes tension, accept it so you can respond from a place of calm.

Investigate: What are you really feeling? Anger may include emotions like fear, frustration, or shame, and physical sensations like tension, flushing, and tightness. Analyzing these complex reactions may enable you to respond more appropriately. 

Non-Identify: Emotions are not you, and you don’t have to identify with them. Emotions are your body’s reaction to your thoughts. They arise on their own. It’s not your embarrassment; rather, it’s the experience of embarrassment passing through you. Practicing the previous three steps (RAI) prepares you to observe the experiences of various emotions instead of identifying with them.

In sport as in life, we all have to deal with loss. Your ability to Recognize, Acknowledge, Investigate, and Not identify with emotion will enhance your chances of bouncing back after adversity.

Taylor Brown, M.S., CPC, is a mindfulness, mental- performance, and leadership coach in Austin. He works with high-school, collegiate, elite, and professional athletes around the world. Connect at Enduromind.com.

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