“Winning is overcoming obstacles to reach a goal, but the value in winning is only as great as the value of the goal reached.” – The Inner Game of Tennis book.

Self 1 vs Self 2

It is well known by science and many philosophers that we have “two minds”. One that is more egocentric and always looking for approval and that wants to avoid disapproval – let’s call it our Self 1.

Whenever something “bad” happens, Self 1 starts thinking about what needs to be done in order to change it for the next time. Self 1 wants to take all of the responsibility to be sure that things get better, and it doesn’t mind to suffer in the way to achieve that goal (a never ending goal though…).

the inner game of tennis - school of freedom

Self 2 is who we truly are. This “mind” lets go of judgmental thinking, it just lets things happen without giving a label to it. Self 2 feels, observes, and tries to continue to improve by experimenting with different strategies.

Our inner self is constantly battling with Self 1, who tries to control the behaviors of Self 2 – “You are playing this sport badly, you should do this, not that…”.

How many times have you tried to fix one behavior to just notice nothing is changing? That probably you are even getting worse at that? This is Self 1 not allowing Self 2 to be itself, to be in the moment, and to become “one”.

By having this continuous dialogue within ourselves, we can never reach our true potential.

There Is no Right and Wrong

One way to let go of Self 1 (as most as possible, it’s impossible to completely let go of it), is by start being less judgmental about either positive or negative events.

there is no right and wrong - school of freedom

How many times have you been complimented about something you were surprisingly doing better than others, just to start doing it wrong again after hearing that?

This happens because our Self 1 steps in and tell Self 2 to repeat what it was doing. Thus, Self 2 can’t be in its natural state and starts to be tenser, our muscles become more tightened, and our movements less fluid.

In sum, an expectation of right and wrong usually keeps us away from our self 2.

Learn in The Natural Way

Have you noticed how well children learn even before they were taught?

They don’t overthink each time they fall when they are learning how to walk. Their body sense and feels what went badly and tries to improve so the next time it doesn’t happen the same – this is Self 2 in action, to evolve in every chance it gets.

Kids don’t have a Self 1 ingrained in their minds, but as they grow older, people start (unfortunately) judging each other, and second doubts grow in them.

natural learning - school of freedom

Natural learning is and always will be from the inside out and not vice-versa.

Giving another example, animals learn by what their parents “show” and then repeat by what they’ve just observed. There are no inner voices commanding each movement they should make.

Basically, try using outside models in your learning but don’t let them use you.

Steps To Enhance Your Inner Game

  • Start by observing existing behavior nonjudgmentally. Don’t see things as bad or good. Look at them simply as they are, you will feel and perform better if you ignore what Self 1 has to tell you.
  • Imagine the desired outcome. Our mind is a powerful tool. Instead of thinking in the steps to achieve something, learn with experience and observation until you achieve your goal. Don’t overthink, just…
  • Let it happen! Trust Self 2, he has been with us for a few hundred thousand years, and that’s how we became who we are today. Not with judgmental and obsessives behaviors.
  • Getting better is a never-ending process. Keep learning and improving yourself.

Obviously that everything that has been spoken in this post is hard to accomplish. The key point to understand your inner game better than before is by becoming aware, to be present.

In case you have difficulties to be in the present, start by practicing your breath, for example with meditation.


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