I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to play. Not only in this game, but ever again.
It was the start of the 2018 season, and I was on our team bus heading to a game in Truro Nova Scotia. We were having a decent start to our season, sitting well above .500 through 10 games. By some strange occurrence, I was playing really good hockey. I was over a point per game and playing on our top line – never a bad thing for a rookie in Jr. A.
However, I had a dark cloud hanging over me.
Heck, I felt like I was trapped IN a dark cloud.
The prior year I missed half the season with post concussion symptoms. As a senior in highschool, I was barely able to pass my classes. Not to mention living in a constant state of fear. A constant state of unknowing.
Unknowing if I would ever shake these symptoms. If I would ever feel like myself. And more importantly, be able to play at the level I sought to play at.
But I’m a hockey player – I’ll find a way through this.. Right? Yep.
That way forward was to shut up and continue playing. I was playing good hockey, so why would I stop?
But here I am. Well over a year of feeling foggy, disconnected, and unsure of what to do.
It was sitting on that bus that I decided I couldn’t go on like this.
I needed to step back, get help, and get back to feeling normal again.
That was all I wanted.
I couldn’t continue to play in constant fear for my health.
So I did seek help. I made a commitment to myself that I would step away from the game until I felt ‘normal’ again.
And finally after 10 months away from the rink, I started to get on the right track.
With dozens of doctor’s appointments and chiropractic sessions proving useless, a profound shift took place in me.
I stopped looking outside of myself for answers and looked inward.
That was the moment my healing process began.
I started to notice the role I was having in my anxiety and fear of the unknown. I started to analyze my thinking. How were certain thoughts, feelings, and emotions I was having serving me? How were they hurting me?
I began to accept the situation I found myself in as opposed to being a prisoner of my own mind. I became rigorously curious. I set forth on a relentless pursuit of learning about my own psychology.
I worked with a mental performance coach.
I began to observe the self imposed obstacles I had created for myself.
This shift inward put me in the driver’s seat. My mind was no longer using me; I was using it.
What occurred following this process was something far superior to being able to continue on in my hockey career. What occurred was that I started to systematically train my mind. I began to understand myself. I was no longer the one directly associated with what I was doing, but instead the one able to watch, observe, and reflect on my behavior.
Before my injury, the game was something I HAD to do – the injury was something I HAD to overcome to get back to playing.
But this process shifted my perspective. Instead of hockey being something I had to do – hockey became, and continues to be, something I GET to do, LOVE to do, and ENJOY doing for the sake of itself.
The game is a way for me to learn, grow, and challenge myself.
My sport became the ultimate vehicle for self expression.
Now do I still struggle with things? Absolutely.
I’m not some buddhist monk on skates.
I get concussion symptoms from time to time. I get pissed off when I don’t get points or get bumped down a line.
The difference now is that I have the awareness to diagnose the problem, and the toolkit to act on the problem. I truly believe that each and everyone of us has the ability to turn our mind from enemy to ally. But it won’t come without doing the inner work.
Since that day in 2018, I remain fascinated by doing the inner work. And what grew out of this was a passion for helping others on their journey of self-discovery.
My goal is to help individuals identify the obstacles blocking them from being the best version of themselves – just without the years of work it took me!
We are up to some pretty cool stuff here at CEP mindset, and I consider myself fortunate to work with athletes and see them break through their own mental blocks.
Cultivating my own mental toolkit was a game changer for me, and I know it will benefit you too. I suggest you get started now.