EQ and High-Stakes

EQ and High-Stakes

Emotion Management in Moments of Frustration

Not many things get people emotionally riled up as sports do. You see some of the craziest fans who demonstrate even crazier behaviors whether their team is winning or losing. The fans are not the only ones who demonstrate an array of emotions. Players do it as well. Emotions are great in the sport because they allow you to be able to have a level of intensity that is needed to be able to win. But sometimes our emotions stand in the way. When things are on the line and stakes are high, it is easy to lose control of your emotions. When you’re winning, there’s never a negative display of emotion. However, when you lose, this is when things change.

Baltimore Ravens had the opportunity to be able to make it to the Super Bowl after many years of being away from the big show. Despite their efforts, the mistakes added up, and the penalties and miscues caused them to lose out on their opportunity. The quarterback Lamar Jackson threw an interception toward the end of the game. You could see that he was visibly frustrated and even more so, angry at himself for making that mistake. I can only imagine the things that he would be saying. If I was in that position, I would be thinking, “How could you make that mistake? What made you throw the ball then? What was I thinking? That was so dumb!”.  Although we have no idea what his self-talk was really like, we could see his frustration through the actions he took. He ran off the field, took his helmet off, and slammed it into the ground. In this moment, he was emotionally hijacked.

Moments later, his teammate Odell Beckham Jr. came to his side, leaned over him, placed his hand on his shoulder, and talked into his ear. We can only imagine what he was saying to him at that time. But someone who is emotionally intelligent would tell him, “You are not the problem. This was just an error. Anyone could have made that error but today it was you. You are bigger than this situation. You are better than this moment. You are a phenomenal quarterback. You’re a phenomenal human being. You helped us get to this point. Because of you, we are here. Because of this team, we are here. I want you to pick your head up. I want you to know that you are valued. I want you to know that you are appreciated. I want you to know that you are great”.

In this moment we saw someone who did not manage their emotions well and immediately after that, someone who managed their emotions effectively. We all have moments where we feel or have felt like Lamar Jackson. But it is so important to get someone who is experienced to be by our side and for us to learn to manage our emotions appropriately to be effective.

The Importance of Emotional Management

Emotions are a double-edged sword in sports and life. They can fuel our drive to succeed but can also cloud our judgment and lead to regrettable actions in moments of stress. Lamar Jackson’s reaction post-interception is a scenario many can relate to, albeit in different contexts. It’s in these moments that the true test of emotional intelligence and management comes to the forefront.

Strategies for Managing Emotions in High-Pressure Situations

Get to Know Yourself Under Stress

Understanding how you react under stress is the first step toward managing your emotions. Reflect on past experiences where you felt under pressure. What triggered your stress? How did you respond? Recognizing these patterns helps you anticipate your reactions and prepare strategies to cope more effectively.

Feel Your Emotions Physically

Our bodies often signal our emotional state before we’re fully aware of it. A tight chest, clenched jaw, or shallow breathing can all indicate rising stress or frustration. By tuning into these physical cues, you can recognize when you’re entering a heightened emotional state. This awareness allows you to implement coping mechanisms, such as deep breathing or taking a moment to step back before your emotions dictate your actions.

Observe the Ripple Effect of Your Emotions

Every action has a reaction, and in moments of high emotion, it’s easy to forget that our behavior impacts those around us. Lamar Jackson’s moment of frustration not only affected him but also his teammates and fans. Conversely, Odell Beckham Jr.’s supportive response exemplified positive emotional management, showing care and leadership. It’s essential to remember that we are role models, and our responses can teach and influence others. Observing the ripple effect of our emotions encourages us to choose responses that have positive impacts.

Bringing It All Together

Emotion management in moments of frustration is a crucial skill and extends far beyond professional sports. Whether you’re facing a critical point in a game, a challenging situation at work, or a personal setback, how you manage your emotions can define the outcome. Learning to understand your stress triggers, feeling your emotions physically, and being mindful of the impact of your reactions are key strategies to navigate these high-pressure moments effectively. Like athletes who train for physical excellence, we too can train ourselves to excel in emotional management, turning potential moments of downfall into opportunities for growth and leadership.

By Dimyas Perdue, Director of Military Solutions  

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