Perception is everything…

Okay so I was feeling back on track with my training this week after feeling sick last weekend. We signed up for our next race and I was feeling motivated…and then BOOM! I started to have excruciating pain on the left side of my face in the middle of week. I had a feeling it was this one tooth that I had been battling with for the past year. So I checked in with my dentist and got an exam and they scheduled me for emergency surgery. However, I still HAD work and other commitments to attend to. One of which was a presentation to Chico State Triathlon Club about sport psychology/mental skills, and there was no way I was going to miss that. I went to the meeting and did the presentation and it was amazing that while I was giving the talk the awareness of my pain was gone. I had not felt a thing. It’s amazing what attention and energy to something such as, tooth pain or giving a motivational presentation, tends to narrow our focus and add to our experience of that “something.”  What comes to mind is the Gate Control Theory of Pain:

“The gate control theory of pain, put forward by Ron Melzack and Patrick Wall to explain why thoughts and emotions influence pain perception. It is the idea that physical pain is not a direct result of activation of pain receptor neurons, but rather its perception is modulated by interaction between different neurons.” In a nutshell, it is our focus, attention, and perception of the pain that influence, possibly controls, the experience of our pain.

So with that I had my surgery yesterday and it’s been a rough couple of days adjusting to the pain and the medication. There were/are so many things that I do not have control over. As triathletes, we try to “plan” aka control everyday day, hour, and our bodies but when injury happens and recovery is the future path we have to scale back to realize that our thoughts and perception is something within our control.

“When you change the way you see things the things you see change.”

Happy training, and recovery, and keep reaching for your peak:)

Published by

Dr. Gloria Petruzzelli

Dr. Petruzzelli is sport and performance psychologist and mindfulness meditation teacher located in Sacramento, California and works with elite sport teams and athletes across the country. She is competitive athlete herself and enjoys practicing what she preaches.

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