Fight, Flight, Fear or Free

Dr. Tom Hanson recently released his latest book, Play Big.

If you don’t know Dr. Tom, he’s a Tampa-based sports psychologist whose niche is helping baseball players (professional and amateur) perform optimally.

More than anything else, he helps these athletes get the inside game won.

Play Big is a fictional story about a player struggling with hitting the ball (only known as “number 21”) who serendipitously meets this extremely shrewd sage who has no name but is very wise about knowing how to win the inside game of baseball (and life).

Think The Peaceful Warrior meets Field of Dreams.

On page 179 the sage introduces the “inner caveman” as the survival and safety mechanism everyone has in their brain.

When the inner caveman perceives a threat, whether it’s real or imagined, it sets off an alarm to be on guard.

When most people feel this alarm they perceive it as anxiety and usually tense up and back away from whatever the perceived threat is.

The problem with that response pattern, whether you’re playing baseball or just interacting with life, is when you tense up and/or back away, you never perform optimally.

This is an overreaction of the “fight or flight” mechanism of the brain, known more formally as the sympathetic nervous system.

When a baseball player steps up to the plate and is in a state of fight or flight, his muscles tighten up too much and he is not able to swing the bat with his natural and instinctual capabilities.

These natural capabilities are actually wired for high performance.

Yes the athlete (and everyone, including you) is wired to succeed and excel at a very high level.

More simply put, you are wired for greatness.

The ONLY thing that gets in the way is the overreactive fight or flight mechanism.

Yes…the mind simply malfunctions at times without you truly knowing why or how.

But what activates the fight or flight mechanism?


Fear of failure and rejection to be exact.

Back to the caveman: He needed his tribe to survive, so any threat to being ostracized from the tribe would literally be life-threatening.

In spite of all the information and technological advances and discoveries made over time, the human brain is exactly the same as caveman days.

No…there is no human brain 2.0!

This means if your inner caveman perceives that a failure may lead to rejection, which may in turn lead to being ostracized, then the sympathetic nervous system is activated and you will not perform optimally if you happen to be playing baseball.

This same dynamic is also occurs in all areas of your life and as long as it reacts this way you will not perform optimally.

Not even close, in fact.

This is why the fear of failure and the fear of rejection are so prevalent (and so destructive).

Dr. Tom really didn’t write this book for the athlete; he wrote it for everyone, as everyone can benefit from this technology.

The next question: How does someone change this response pattern?

Simple…they think differently and create a different emotional response.

Here’s an example: Think about something you do every day without much attention. Something that is almost automatic. Maybe driving, or brushing your teeth or putting on your clothes.

Most people do these tasks, and most daily tasks, automatically and very confidently.

So confidently, in fact, that they don’t even think about it much or at all.

When you engage in one of these activities, you’re being unconsciously confident and competent.

Now imagine you’re able to recreate that same automatically confident energy in other tasks that maybe have been anxiety producing in the past.

What happens when you do?

You feel calmer, more at ease and more peaceful.

And when you feel calmer, more at ease and more peaceful, you automatically feel more confident and perform optimally.

You feel free. Welcome to your greatness!

So, when you visualize yourself doing anything, always see yourself doing it with great ease, calm and peace…breathe deeply and smile, as your body will automatically calm itself with breathing and smiling.

(Yes, stress, deep breathing and smiling cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Stress is overruled by a big smile and a deep breath, and then cast out.)

And remember to stop by and say thanks to Dr. Tom….sneaky guy he is trying to convince the world that this book is about baseball.

Play Big is about life and how to win in a way that will bring you the most happiness and freedom.

That is what you want, right?


More from Ken Donaldson…


And Marry YourSelf First!



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