Ice: Eat any Rat Poison Today?

Pema Chödrön, in her great book, The Places That Scare You, tells us that being mad at someone, and holding a grudge, is kind of like eating rat poison and thinking the rat will die. Our own anger and resentment actually poisons us.

That doesn’t exactly seem like a winning strategy, does it? Now let’s take it one step further: what happens when the person we’re angry with is yourself?! I know we’ve all been here: we mess up, we don’t show up as our best selves, we let ourselves or someone important to us down. When we dwell in this, holding a grudge against our self, we are poisoning ourselves.

Well in sports, this happens and this is incredibly common for one AthleteType in particular: the ICE. The Methodical Athlete holds themselves to such a high standard that no matter how tirelessly they work to be there best, they inevitably slip (we all do, it’s part of being human). When this happens, the ICE can fall into a self-inflicted shame spiral that is not only toxic to themselves, but the entire team as well.

A team needs its ICE Athletes to be team leaders—to motivate their teammates to also strive towards high standards. To lead, they must learn to let their mistakes go. Chödrön lays out a 3-step process to do just that:

  1. We need to notice when we are falling into a spiral of self-pity, anger, depression. Recognize that it’s a positive thing to see yourself doing something negative. Make observing your negative habits a game. Celebrate every time you catch yourself going against yourself. Here is a practical idea: take off your Athlete Types bracelet and place it on your other wrist. (Count how many times you do this a day and watch the number decrease in time)!
  2. Second, we need to compassionately interrupt our habits. Once we notice a negative response to a stimulus we need to interrupt that pattern. Q: What can you do to interrupt a negative habit? A: Take action! Change your behavior in the moment to break the pattern! Have a set routine if you feel “X” then you will do “Y” (remember our “if/then intentions”. Do a push-up, hum a song, say something nice to yourself, smile, breath—anything that will replace the negative habit with a positive one and help you refocus on the present (remember W.I.N.. What’s important Now?).
  3. Do it again and again and again. It’s a lifetime process. Diligently, persistently, deliberately, patiently notice negative habits and replace them with positive habits and REPEAT!

So, Are you eating any rat poison today? What knocks you off your game? What behavior are you going to install when you catch yourself off your game. If you feel “___________” you will do “____________”.

If you are looking to develop a new behavior to replace a negative habit, experiment with the “Active Love” Tool. (Go here to use it!) Here is how: The next time you feel yourself in a mental maze of rat-poison frustration, drop out of your head and into your heart. Beam the person you’re frustrated with love (yourself). Move on.

For more great “If/Then” mental visualization tools, check out Phil Stutz and Barry Michael’s books, The Tools and Coming Alive, where they gamify the life-long process of quickly identifying the toxic “X”’ behaviors in your life and help you install positive “Y” tools the moment you start losing control of yourself. You can use the “Active Love” tool beam love to yourself and others, but here is a summary of other helpful tools that can be used the moment you notice yourself being less than your best self:

  • REVERSAL OF DESIRE – Learn to get out of your Comfort Zone and how to act in the face of pain to get your life moving again.
  • GRATEFUL FLOW – Stop obsessive worrying, negative thinking, and self-hating thoughts.
  • ACTIVE LOVE – Free yourself from out-of-control rage and never-ending grudges.
  • INNER AUTHORITY – Overcome insecurity and learn to deal with your Shadow so you can be your true self.
  • JEOPARDY – Activate your willpower and make the most of every minute.
  • THE BLACK SUN – Develop the strength to resist indulgences and addictions and strengthen your Life Force.
  • PROJECTION DISSOLVING – Take back your power from difficult people in your life.
  • THE MOTHER – Develop resilience and a sense of hopefulness in the face of life’s inevitable setbacks.
  • THE VORTEX – When you’re overwhelmed or exhausted, tap into an endless well of energy to help you meet life’s demands.
  • THE TOWER – Move past hurt and pain so you can open your heart to life again.

Reference and book recommendations:

Brian Johnson’s note on optimizing your potential.

The Places that Scare Us by Pema Chödrön

The Dhammapada by The Buddha

The Bhagavad Gita by Krishna

The Power of TED by David Emerald

The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michael

Coming Alive by Phil Stutz and Barry Michael

Willpower by Roy Baumeister

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell