Win­ner’s men­tal­ity

Malaysia’s top gym­nast on how she keeps men­tally strong when the com­pe­ti­tion gets tough.

Time Out Kuala Lumpur - - Body & Mind - By John Lim

NA­TIONAL GYM­NAST FARAH ANN AB­DUL HANI may have won mul­ti­ple gold medals at the SEA Games, but get­ting to where she is now in­volved plenty of pa­tience, hard work and heartbreak. Ahead of her appearance at the up­com­ing SEA Games in KL, we asked Farah on how she builds the men­tal strength re­quired to push through and im­prove her­self. Keep chang­ing goals It’s im­por­tant to con­stantly change your goals as you de­velop, and gym­nas­tics is one sport where I’m al­ways learn­ing new skills. Even the goals I set for my­self a few years ago have changed: then, it was just to get to the SEA games; now, my tar­get is to qual­ify for the Olympics. In set­ting goals for your­self, don’t just look at the big goals of main­tain­ing your health or ex­er­cis­ing – main­tain smaller ones so that you can track your progress and see how far you’ve come from where you started. It’s more mo­ti­vat­ing this way be­cause you can see the progress you’ve made. It’s all right to feel crappy It takes a lot out of you when you go out there af­ter hours of train­ing, only to lose. But I al­low my­self to be up­set – when I didn’t qual­ify for the Olympics the last time, I couldn’t go back to the gym for two weeks. Even the men­tion of the Olympics would make me so up­set that I’d break down in tears. Even­tu­ally, I picked my­self up and told my­self to keep mov­ing for­ward. Fail­ure is part and par­cel of win­ning; we can only move up from fail­ure and im­prove our­selves, and we al­ways have more room to grow. We should al­low our­selves to learn from our mis­takes and be­lieve that some­thing bet­ter is on the horizon. Phys­i­cal and men­tal strength go handin-hand Right now, I go for ses­sions with a psy­chol­o­gist to help me men­tally pre­pare for a big event by run­ning through rou­tines and goals so that by the time I en­ter the arena, I’m men­tally pre­pared to face my chal­lenges. But first and fore­most, it’s im­por­tant to be phys­i­cally pre­pared for what­ever you’re do­ing and your men­tal prepa­ra­tion is an ad­di­tion to these. When you know that your body can do some­thing af­ter do­ing it a thou­sand times in train­ing, the prob­a­bil­ity of suc­ceed­ing gets bet­ter. Take small steps in adapt­ing new habits You need to be­lieve in your­self and trust that your dreams – whether it’s an ideal body weight or a job that you want – can be achieved. If you don’t be­lieve it your­self, then no one else will sup­port you. At times it will be hard and you want to give up, but those are the mo­ments when you de­cide that your dreams are big­ger than what­ever you’re feel­ing at that mo­ment. Write your goals some­where you can see them – in your kitchen, bed­room and on your phone – so you never for­get what you’re striv­ing for and what you need to do to get there. Make small steps first to adapt to your new habit, then grad­u­ally make them big­ger – I find that this will help you adapt bet­ter to your new habit. Sur­round your­self with peo­ple that are happy for you and will help you in your jour­ney.

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