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How Often Do You Self-Sabotage? From Experience, I’ll Bet It’s More Than You Think!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #152 Watch or listen HERE.

Picture it! A beautiful setting in the Outer Banks. Sun shining. Wind blowing just enough to keep it comfortable. An early morning workout. Sun. Sand. Peace. And a set of stairs!

This week’s Tip began this spring during a conversation with a college wide receiver. I revisited the theme the week before my vacation as I was talking with one of my college soccer players who is rehabbing a knee injury.

I asked the whole football team if they had ever used visualization. Up goes the hand of the wide receiver and he confessed that he sees himself drop passes.


Fast forward to two weeks ago as my soccer player is visualizing her rehab exercises between sessions and watching herself do speed skaters with a 3-second pause after landing to work on explosiveness, balance, strength, range of motion…you name it!

As she is watching her own mind movie, of which she is the director, she sees herself wobble and lose her balance on her injured leg.


Again, she is the director of her own mind movie…and even then, the doubts and fear sneak in!

Now to vacation at the OBX after a tough run on a VERY loose and steep beach, I had two very tired legs. BUT my workout wasn’t over! I still needed to do a bit more, so I found those steps.

As I stood at the bottom of the steps and played out my post-run HIIT session, I pictured myself running up the wooden steps…and tripping.


Like students, like teacher. We all have the same tendencies…and I bet you do, too!

What happens here? Both of us are supposed to be thinking about what we want to do, not what we are trying to avoid!

But so often, we self-sabotage as our thoughts…and subsequent pictures…turn into a hindrance instead of a help!

We know the power of the images we see.

Visualization, also known as mental imagery, impacts a slew of cognitive processes. It can affect motor control and cognitive and physical planning (or what I like to call pre-experiencing). It can enhance attention, increase confidence since we are watching ourselves figure it out and it can enhance our perceptions of exertion, environmental variables and emotion all important to being in the right state to perform at our best!

These are not concepts, but they are too new to so many of us. Look back to the beginnings of psychology in the US in the 1800s and you will find that William James, in The Principles of Psychology, said, “Every representation of a movement awakens in some degree the actual movement.”

What we see activates the muscles and systems it takes to get it done!

You may have heard about the study conducted about 30 minutes from here at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic where Dr. Guang Yue compared strength improvements between those doing physical work and those performing mental exercises.

He found that the same parts of the brain are activated when thinking about exercise and during actual exercise!

In fact, in his study, those who performed physical finger movements increased their strength by 53% and those who did “mental contractions” improved their strength by 35%...with an additional 5% increase observed four weeks after the study ended! A total of a 40% increase by making mind movies of mental contractions of the finger!

So back to the trips and falls. Now how important is it that we both see ourselves doing what we want?


We know we don’t control our thoughts. But we can manage them.

Since we both were immediately aware of our negative images, we were both able to shift them before they persisted.

Once we became aware, we then replaced them with a more deliberate image of what we wanted…a solid landing and a successful trip up the steps, no matter how heavy the legs felt!

This may be as important as the image itself.


Because being able to deliberately shift our mindset, our focus, our thoughts and our images is VITAL to our success.

Doubt and fear are inevitable. Our brain is constantly looking to keep us safe, thus we try to protect ourselves…which seems counterintuitive to watch ourselves fall…but we are preparing for the worst.

However, as noted in the studies, seeing ourselves fall activates those muscles…not the ones that keep us upright!

It comes down to two things: AWARENESS and PRACTICE!

Noticing our self-sabotage allows us to end it. This gives us the opportunity to substitute seeing what we don’t want with what we do want...and sending those positive messages to our muscles!

And as with anything we do, PRACTICE matters. The more we use this tool, the better we get at using it and priming our brain and body to perform at our best!

Think about what you see. Do you see yourself stumbling? If so, no big deal. The more you notice, the more you get to shift to something helpful…and this practice helps us get where we want to be when we need to be there!

What we see matters! The good thing is this…if you don’t see what you want, you are the director…ADJUST IT!!!

Manage the moments!


P.S. My schedule 2023-24 schedule is filling quickly. Contact me today at or call/text 234-206-0946 and let’s put together a plan for your program!

Julie Jones

Mental Performance Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946

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