Q: “Do you have any suggestions for how to deal with frustration and break out of the vicious cycle that sometimes develops as a result? I’ve found on occasion that if I run into an obstacle—say, a particular corner that I’m just not able to get right no matter what I try, I start obsessing about it and can get frustrated to the point that all other learning and improvement stops. Eventually, I can force myself to give up on whatever that is for the time being and focus on other parts of the track, but that might take a couple of sessions or even overnight and until then, it’s no fun for anyone, especially me.”
A: Right now, do not think about a pink elephant. Don’t think about a pink elephant. I said, don’t think about a pink elephant! You cannot NOT think about something, right? It’s human nature, and it’s one reason we get frustrated – because we can’t help but think about what’s not going the way we want. We even tell ourselves to NOT think about it, but that doesn’t help.
So you need to focus on something else. My recommendation would be to take that time to do what I call Sensory Input Sessions. I’ve written about them in my books, in Speed Secrets Weekly, in the tips on my website, and I did a video about them on my YouTube channel. Doing them results in better sensory information that your mind can use for good – and it “distracts” your mind from focusing on what you don’t want. I’m not going to suggest that you’ll do everything perfectly – and focus on just them – the first time you do these, but it will help. And using them is the best strategy I know of for a driver who focuses too much on the wrong things.
The only way you cannot NOT think about what you’re frustrated about is to focus on something else. Telling yourself to not get frustrated is like me telling you to not think about a pink elephant. I suggest focusing on sensory input, but you could also focus on a specific driving technique, like how you’re releasing the brakes entering corners. The key is to have a solid, well-defined plan to do something, so that you’re more likely to focus on what you want, rather than on what you don’t want. If you have a wishy-washy plan, like “I’m going to drive smoother,” or “I’m not going to get frustrated,” or “I’m going to drive faster,” then it’s unlikely you’ll do what you want… and you’ll get even more frustrated.
Again, you may not do this perfectly at first, and that’s okay. It’s all learning process. And the more you do this, the better you’ll get at it. Like anything, it takes practice.