Managing Mind Chatter


Clint Murphy Mitchell Greene


Clint Murphy, Mitchell Greene


Clint Murphy  00:00

Mitchell, welcome to the growth guide. It’s great to have you here today. For our listeners who may not know you. Can you share a little bit about yourself?


Mitchell Greene  00:09

Of course, first of all, thank you, Clint for having me on. I am a clinical and sports psychologist, located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, where I work exclusively with athletes, coaches and teams on either mental health related issues, or sport performance related issues.


Clint Murphy  00:30

And so where I’d love to start with the athletes is to read a quote that you have in your book and give you a chance to chew on that, which was with their identities and reputations wrapped up in their earned run averages, points per game, Chip times and national ranking. Overall stress on athletes has reached epic proportions. Today, we are worried as much about the state of athlete’s mental health, as we are their actual performance. What does that look like?


Mitchell Greene  01:02

Well, what that looks like is some really scared, panicky, overwhelmed young people but sometimes not so young people who feel like every time they get it bad, or every time they shoot a shot or go run a race. It’s not just what happens in the event that’s on the line. They feel like that their entire being who they are their entire reputation. And identity is on the line. And so people who are as well trained as anybody, clients, ICR terrifically trained, they don’t need help getting motivated. If anything, they need help dialing it back. They’ve got everything taken care of and feel like now, if they don’t perform, they will let the world down and that everything might come crashing down. And so they’ll come into my office with that kind of panic and fear. And that’s where the work usually begins.


Clint Murphy  01:57

And that panic and fear and that sense of we don’t want to let people down. That tends to become the mental game or as you describe it, the mind chatter. Can you bring our listeners up to speed on what is mind chatter? You say there are three basics everyone should know about starting with. Recognize it is going to be there for all of us. Can you take us through? What is mind chatter? How does it hit us? And what are the three basics everyone should be thinking about as we work our way through the conversation?


Mitchell Greene  02:32

Sure. So I define mind chatter. My definition of mind chatter is when we have conversations with ourselves that are full of doubt, second guessing and negative thinking. Doubt, second guessing and negative thinking. That’s my definition. I know some people will use the terms negative self talk, and things like that. But I actually think it’s incredibly helpful for my athlete clients to kind of have a third to have its own name that isn’t so necessarily negative sounding. And immediately when I describe chatter to my athletes, they, they recognize it. The key characteristics that I go through my book, Clint about when mind chatter shows up, I want my athletes to fully understand. Before we get into what to do about mind chatter, I want them to appreciate almost the most important part of my intervention with them is, is why it shows up understanding the context in which it shows up. In other words, it won’t show up in a Tuesday afternoon practice, it won’t show up in an easy job that you’re doing just to sort of do a shakeout run to get your legs loose. It always shows up when the uncertainty and the stakes feel enormous. So game day, race day, tournament weekend tryouts to make a team. And I go through a series of steps with my athletes to help them as you’re saying, step one, anticipate and expect the chatter to show up. And this is an enormous part of the steps maybe the most important step, Clint, because if you don’t appreciate that, it’s going to show up on game day, you’re left thinking you’re a coward. You’re left thinking you’re a wimp. You’re left thinking there’s something wrong with you, you’re left thinking that you might be abnormal. And one of the things that I treasure most about the work I do is I could disabuse people of this idea that there’s anything wrong with them. What simply happening or not so simply happening is there Chatter is going on duty. And I get them to anticipate and expect that of course, it’s going to go on duty. And what’s it going to do? It’s going to pump out messages that have nothing to do with the game itself, or the race itself. It has everything to do with what could go wrong and might go wrong and what the outcome might be and what it all might mean for them. So step one, as you’ve alluded to, is the anticipating and expecting chatter to come in, and maybe without that step, the other step have small work.


Clint Murphy  05:01

And when you think about it for the average person, they probably think well, maybe this will happen to me, but it doesn’t really happen to the professionals. And then I stem back to What first got you into a love of this topic area, even though you ultimately went into clinical psychology and didn’t start sports psychology until much later. It was as a child watching the second baseman, Chuck Knobloch, and all of a sudden he couldn’t throw a baseball. Can you take us through what you saw there? And how it can hit athletes at the highest level? In the prime of their careers?


Mitchell Greene  05:40

Yeah, I was always fascinated by the stories of athletes. And I think I had a father who who always put put my attention to it because he was always trying to get the lesson across to me, like, look, everybody makes mistakes, kind of lessened through my athletic career, if I got down on myself, and so there are a series of very famous Major League Baseball players, Rick ankles, you’ve sacks who’ve had these unbelievable gaffes in front of the world. But it was this guy, Chuck Knobloch, who I’ll just quickly describe as a major league baseball player for a number of years was the most valuable player was an all star and came to the New York Yankees, and I’m a New Yorker. And while I was in graduate school, studying all the things you study in clinical psych, I was doing everything I could to get my hands on the New York papers. To read about Knobloch who was having trouble throwing the ball from second base to first base, only about 10 feet. Sometimes, this all star wound up either under handing the ball to first base, or literally walking over to the first baseman and kind of handing it to him. Because seemingly out of nowhere, he was throwing the ball over the first baseman’s head in the dirt. And the story of his downhill demise was striking and sad. He wound up in the outfield after that, because you don’t have to be as accurate. And it does have everything to do with why I’m a sports psychologist, because I never forgot the stories of Knobloch. But I also really knew that even if you’re not a professional, well, let alone that the professionals are struggling, that anybody could go through something kind of Allah knob law. Since then, I’ve learned I’ve having worked with so many professionals and now there’s even more professionals, CLIN coming out and talking about their own struggles, that chatter is can affect everyone, even those even at the top of the game, have maybe even more at stake. They’re not just worried about, you know, not doing well, in front of their friends in their local community. They’re worried about sponsorships, they’re worried about their Olympic dreams never come into Truett nomic never been realized, even though they have worked for years and years on it. They’re worried about, you know, getting traded and losing a living from it. And I think it’s important for the readers and for the people who follow your podcast to appreciate that it’s an equal opportunity offender. And the last thing I’ll say, of course, is you don’t have to be an athlete, to have mine chatter. Of course, you and I have mind chatter. Anytime you go into a situation where you feel as though the stakes are high. And the uncertainty is scaring you like going into a group of people and trying to meet somebody new perhaps, or going into a big job interview or going on a podcast where you think, oh my gosh, what are they going to ask me? What are people going to think of me? Under normal, It’s quite normal, that you’re going to have a voice that’s going to pop up in your head that’s gonna say, what if I screw this up?


Clint Murphy  08:40

And to extent, there’s a certain level of imposter syndrome tied to that mind chatter. As soon as the voice starts telling us well, you’re not good enough, they’re gonna find out, you’re a fraud. You don’t belong here. You shouldn’t be on this podcast, you shouldn’t be hosting it. No one’s gonna listen to what you have to say. That you would say is the mind chatter just playing out? Which I may say, Hey, that’s my imposter syndrome flaring up, does that sound aligned?


Mitchell Greene  09:10

Well, what matters most to me isn’t necessarily what you call it. What matters most to me is to understand that there’s two conversations sort of going on at once in your head. There’s the Clint, that is desires to do a podcast and reach as many people as he can, and help as many people as he can from what he says and his guests have to say. And there’s of course, another voice that says Clint, what if nobody listens, and what if people think this isn’t much of anything, and whether you want to call that impostor syndrome, or chatter, what matters most to me as a psychologist is that you, you see that it’s not you per se, but it’s sort of a part of you, but it’s not you and the reason I know it’s not you with a capital Y O U is because You’re the one who developed this podcast, you’re the one who came up with the name for it, you’re the one who, who got the gas, you’re the one who keeps showing up week after week. That’s the one who we need to be listening to. But we need to appreciate that there will be an inevitable mental Gremlin that will look to poke holes in everything that you’re trying to create. And what I do in my approach is to try to get people to be quote unquote, big about it. Like to instead of thinking, Oh, my gosh, it’s a sign that I’m really not ready to go. I’m really looking to turn that on its head and say, of course, my Chatter is going to be here, it must be and I’m leaning into something big here. And I’m making room for it. Like, you’re welcome to come on the journey with me. In fact, I’ll just tell you an interesting, quick story that I found interesting was, I was listening to an interview with John Mayer, the very famous guitar player and singer songwriter, who was talking about how nervous he gets on stage. And now his therapist was, was helping him by telling him, you know, think of it as like, you’re the little kid John, like the young John, who’s the nervous part of you. So he didn’t call it mind chatter, but he called it sort of young John or Little John, like, invite Little John and young John to join you on stage. Instead of thinking you have to be perfectly confident, and rock star, with your attitude, you know, be nervous and let young John come on the stage and do and sort of watch you do what you do. And this very much sort of aligns with my approach, which is you’re gonna have Jack shatter, you’re gonna get nervous. And there’s another example of a professional getting really chattery. But instead of thinking that, you can’t be thinking that way, you can’t exist and be successful with chatter, we’re saying, welcome it in and let it come along for the ride.


Clint Murphy  12:06

An important part there that you mentioned, when they were talking about Little John, because you also talked about the idea when we think of so this will be a meandering question, but you’ll get where I’m going. So you talked about the idea that our mind chatter is there to protect us. So it’s a bit of an evolutionary mechanism. And when you look at what he said to John Mayer, he said, Bring Little John up on stage. And a lot of our practices, or coping mechanisms that we have, protect ourselves, tend to come from our early childhood, if you will, that are hardwired into us, Oh, Mom and Dad do this, they tell me I’m not good enough. This is how I react. This is how I protect myself so that mom or dad won’t tell me I’m not good enough. And so when they say bring Little John up there to show him what you can do today, part of that seems to be saying, let’s help that inner child see us perform at the level we need to so we can  let it know. Hey, thanks for trying to protect me, but I don’t need you anymore.


Mitchell Greene  13:15

Yeah, I would maybe language, it’s slightly different. But I think that’s the sentiment I agree with, which is that scared part of you that and for some people that can remind them of when they were that little child and they were afraid to, you know, get up on stage or afraid to speak up in class or afraid to try out for a team. I think there’s something to that what you’re saying, which is people can see that maybe they lived in a lot of their life, letting that fear part of them dictate their choices and their decisions. And now we’re trying to say to people, you don’t have to, that fear doesn’t have to define who you are, you get to sort of discovered that you’re maybe not who you thought you were. And maybe you’re sort of a bigger version of who you are. Maybe there’s more of you that the world needs to see. But you’ve lived your life, from that young point of view, where fear has sort of been how you’ve sort of presenting yourself to the world. And that’s very exciting. It’s very transformative for people. It’s very freeing for people who, who really sort of embrace this. And it’s really what makes my work so exciting. Because yes, I’m hoping to help people get ready for the next game, or tournament. But of course, I’m really hoping to get them to just see that they can be different, that they sort of aren’t done discovering what who they are and what they’re capable of. And that’s really the most rewarding part of it all.


Clint Murphy  14:41

And when we talk about kids in youth sports, because the pressure seems to be mounting more and more. I mean, we have the academies we have the traveling teams. We have the school teams, it seems like there’s no more let’s do multiple sports. Let’s specialize earlier, earlier and earlier. In the book you talk about emphasizing competitive success at early ages, is the single biggest problem we face in contemporary use sports, systematic use of a professional model flies in the face of the mounting evidence that kids who start competing young and specialize in one sport rather than multiple sports, experience high rates of burnout, injuries, and emotional stress. Can you tell us how that has been getting crazier and crazier as the years have gone on? You know, what do you think started it? And how did we get to where we are?


Mitchell Greene  15:40

Yeah. Well, first, just to describe the quote on the you know, the craziness, as you said, and it is crazy, you know, I can have children as young as parents of children as young as eight, saying, you know, Jimmy or Jane, I don’t think soccer is their main sport, they need to they need to pick because maybe they’re not as good as their brother or sister are. So we need to find like a main sport for them as if it like age eight, you have to be like a dominant force in a particular sport. Otherwise, you know, you’re going to wind up in the gutter. And, and never be a true athlete. So we’re over focusing on outcome. And we’re over focusing on result. And we’re over focusing on the wins and the losses, and the learning and the fun. And the sort of development of athletes has gotten very much pushed aside. You know,   spend a good amount of energy talking to parents and sports parents, and kind of reminding them that you don’t want your child to be peaking at 10 years old, or 12 years old, and that if they don’t win that particular tournament, it isn’t a sign that they’re never going to be successful in their particular sport. The parents are scared, we talk about the chatter in the athlete, but the chatter amongst the parents is maybe even worse. And they get it’s kind of reminds me of when my children were young, like everyone thought that if you didn’t share, like put Baby Einstein on the TV for them to learn how to like read and see visual cues, like your child, you know, as infants that your child would like, never read, like we all bought into it. We were all scared, like, What do you mean, my kid may not read, like, I’ll do everything I can to make sure that they read as if like, somehow kids weren’t reading before, there was such a thing as baby einstein or DVS. For that matter, parents are sort of caught up in this like the if they don’t if their kids aren’t involved in the latest and greatest and multitude of teams. Because the parents identity as a parent, sometimes is also wrapped up in their children’s sport. So like I’m a if my children, my child is good at running, then that must mean I’m somehow a parent who’s sort of got it all together, I could be the admiration of, of other parents. And so I talk in the book about, you know, some people thinking this started way back in the late 70s, after the Nadia Comaneci success in the gymnastics world in the Olympics in scoring a perfect 10. And us sort of in the United States starting to adopt more of a European approach to early training and early excellence, because that’s the European or the, or the Eastern European model, which was you train hard. From a young age, you specialize at a young age. And that’s how you build champions. And we don’t have like a sports and overseeing sports entity in the United States, the way they do their so things have just run wild, you know, parents are doing what they want. Coaches are sort of doing what they want. academies do what they want, because there’s really no oversight to all of this. And it has gotten to the point, the last thing I’ll just say about that, Clint is, you know, where I’m trying to tell parents not to go to practices and not I’m writing them fake prescriptions, as I call it, because I can’t write a real prescription. I’m not an MD, but I write them fake prescriptions to go get coffee, when their kids are playing on the weekend, or, or go visit their other child. In other words, parents feel like if they’re not there at the games, and at every practice, like they’re not a good parent, and I’m saying you need to give your kids some space, you need to let them tell you about how the game went. Instead of us saying why in the second quarter, did you, you know, dribble the ball away when you could have dribbled around that person. And that sets up this cascade of like, tension and arguing where the parents are over involved. They’re over coaching, they’re over parenting. And this is kind of a lot of what the work that I do day to day.


Clint Murphy  19:38

And how much of that do you think also ties to as we tend to have in North America, the capitalistic model of all of these academies, high performance coaches, trainers, how much of that ties to advertising that if you don’t do these things, your kid’s not going to be successful. So you’re not successful because you don’t have a successful kid.


Mitchell Greene  20:03

Oh, yeah, Clint, goes without saying this is billion dollars of business, where you’ll find places building or, you know, sports complexes, kind of in the middle of nowhere, and, and get some advertisers to support them. And then all of a sudden, that will attract youth teams to come to that area. And they make money from it, the hotels around it, make money from it, the restaurants around it, make money from it. And, and so more and more sort of tournament locations are popping up. And, and trying to get the best kids to go play at those locations. And the coaches and the, and the parents think it well, if I don’t go to that one, maybe I’ll miss out on an opportunity. As I write about in the book, I mean, these parents and these kids feel obligated to say yes, even when the coaches say it’s optional, they read that as there’s really no option here because of I don’t go and she goes to the practice, I don’t go and he goes to the workout, he’s gonna have a leg up on me, or she’s gonna have a leg up on me in terms of trying to get to the next level. And everybody’s afraid of falling behind to a point where it’s obviously unhealthy, and where it leads to the kids. Again, back to our conversation, it leads to the chatter in the panicky, the panic about, you know, what’s going to happen next.


Clint Murphy  21:29

And it’s interesting, because that one doesn’t just affect athletes in you talked about the dog in pursuit of a goal. It’s both a blessing and a curse, as I well know, as someone who tries to, let’s say, become a podcaster, or become a content creator and say, Well, I’m going to write every day on social media for the next two years. At some point, that dogged pursuit could pay off. But there’s also the dark side in the curse of pursuing those goals for multiple years. With that determined nature. Can you talk a little bit about that dark side that you see in the athletes? Mitchell?


Mitchell Greene  22:15

Yeah, I think that what you’re making me think is sometimes really the conversation that comes up in my office is, is sort of why why? Why is what’s this worth to you? You know, what are you have you lost sight of why you decided to write for two years in a row, like you’re halfway through it, and you think now you’re going to have to continue to do it, because you made a promise to yourself, well, we always get to sort of reevaluate whether this is sort of worth it still or not. And for some people, they might say, let’s say it’s a sport school that, you know, they might decide they want to no longer play soccer anymore, and they want to all of a sudden, you know, do volleyball. And they think somehow, like, they can’t switch at this point, because they’ve invested so much time and energy into soccer that they would be sort of like, you know, quitting, it would be a sign of quitting, versus a sign maybe of good strategy that, that soccer no longer brings you the joy that you were looking for. And maybe you don’t want to do a sport at all, maybe you decided, You know what, I have a client right now. And the conversation is she really loves theater, she happens to be a terrific basketball player. And she sees it as a blessing and as a curse, because everyone relies on her to bring it every night. And she likes to play basketball. But she wants to explore the arts as she moves into high school now. And that’s the ongoing discussion, because if she was to do that, she really can’t do both. And but her heart I think, is really moving towards the theater and being in the arts. And there’s this sort of dark side, which is if I’m not like, continuing to compete a basketball, if I’m not continuing to sweat it out, that somehow I’m like a failure. Like, as if somehow there was, you know, God put her on this earth for just one particular path that she must follow. And so, you know, people see the dark side clenches up, people start to feel less like they’re making the choice. It’s as if somehow, like, this other force is making a choice for them. And that’s where they get into trouble where it feels like I’m not choosing who I want to be and what I want to do, I feel like obligation and guilt. And fear is choosing it for me. And those are the ways that we begin to kind of unpack it so that people feel more authority and ownership over the choices that they want to make including switching sports, getting out of sport, dialing it back with the sport and does that kind of answer the your question?


Clint Murphy  24:54

Yeah, and Mitchell, something that seems to be a country aviator, whether it’s you sports all the way up to professional athletes and everyone in between something that seems to be a major contributor to mind chatter, that it, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about it a little is social media. Can you talk about some of the impacts that you see on these athletes from social media in their lives?


Mitchell Greene  25:22

Yeah, well, look, first of all, we would say how much   all impacted by social media, whether you’re an adult, or whether you’re a non athlete, whether you’re just a human, you know, most of us have been impacted at some level by social media. What happens now, certainly in the world of sports is because there’s such immediacy, you know, if a race just ended in California, those times and highlights will be posted online, within minutes. And if you’re an athlete over in New Jersey, on the east coast, you could see right away how people are performing. And a lot of my clients sort of pay so close attention to what’s going on across the country, in their sport, that they sometimes get so caught up in what everyone else is doing, that they start their event or their sport on that particular weekend and they can’t focus because they’re not focused on getting better themselves. They’re focused on trying to prove that they’re better than the person over in California or that they don’t suck as much as the person in California, and all of a sudden, they’re living sort of in thisvictim, you know, one down position and  trying to compete, and never feel like they’re good enough. And that’s the common thing. They just never feel they’re good enough, because the constant comparisons to everybody else, and everything they’re doing. There is a site of social media that can be helpful, I don’t want to say it’s all negative. And the research is a little inconclusive about this, I think we just know anecdotally that it can certainly be negative for athletes. But I have plenty of athletes who will go on and put on a highlight reel of it could be a Kobe Bryant highlight reel, it could be one of their old guy highlight reels. It could be it could be watching an opponent compete, and that gets them fired up. That gets them jazzed up that gets them ready to kind of kill it out there. And for each individual person, each of interval athlete they have to begin to really assess, honestly and truthfully, is it helping? Or is it really getting in the way of your performances? And by the way, I’ll put parents in this as well, because I’m talking with much about parents and how they’re using social media. For example, they’re sticking a phone in front of their kids. Look at look at Johnny, look at Jane, look what she just did, in that last Swimmy look how she’s turning over, look what she’s doing there. And the kids, you know, the parents sometimes don’t know where the boundaries should lie, because I understand they’re trying to be helpful by pointing something out to their kids. But hopefully now work, I’m going to help them have a conversation with their child about are you really being helpful when you’re sticking a phone in front of their face? Some kids would say, Yeah, I love it. And some kids would say, your attempt to be supportive, is stressing me out. And I want to help kids express that to their parents. Because the parents may have no idea that they are stressing the kids out. And it could be a half hour before they’re about to compete. And they wonder why the kids aren’t doing well. Well, you’ve stuck you know, a competitor’s highlight reel in their face, and they buckled under the under the whole thing.


Clint Murphy  28:32

When they first start to have that negative mindset chatter, the first answer most parents or amateur armchair quarterback psychologists will give them is we’ll just think positive thoughts. Why don’t you just be more positive? Why doesn’t that work? Mitchell?


Mitchell Greene  28:51

Yes, you know, you know, trying to be more confident or positive when you’re really feeling doubtful and negative is like trying to make yourself taller. Right?  You can try but it’s not going to work or try to throw yourself a surprise party, there’s just no chance you’re going to fool yourself. So there is this positive thinking or this movement towards just being positive and that the only way to really be successful in your sport is if you’re positive and confident. And it’s just not a light switch type of thing that when we’re when because there’s chatter, and as I explained, Chatter is going to show up under these particular conditions of, of high stakes and high stress, it’s impossible to just be fully confident and fully positive. And so what I want, you know, listeners of your pod, and readers of my book to appreciate is I want to give parents a new language, which is to stay away from just using terms like be positive and be confident and beginning to sort of talk with their kids about okay, how can we manage that other chattery voice that’s, that’s trying to get in the way If somebody is feeling confident and positive, don’t get me wrong, they don’t need somebody like me. And they don’t need anybody at that point and just let him let it rip. But trying to make yourself feel something that you really don’t, is sort of a fool’s errand. And the truth is, Glenn, as you know, we just don’t have as much control over our thoughts as we’d like to think. That’s the bottom line.


Clint Murphy  30:22

Yeah. And so the first thing that you talk about when we say, Okay, well, let’s figure out how to work with our mind chatter. The first part planning for its arrival, people sometimes forget you, you read different studies that will say that we have anywhere from 35,000 to 90,000 thoughts per day, and many of them, some would say 80% or more, tend to be negative thoughts that are on a recurring repetitive loop. In so the idea you say is prepare for these thoughts to come. For our listeners, what is preparation for the thoughts coming look like?


Mitchell Greene  31:04

Well, so in the sports context, if you’re, you’re on, you’re in your car on the way to the game, and you’re getting into the locker room and putting on your cleats and your jersey, that I want my athletes at that point, if not before then, and there’s plenty of times we’re doing it before them. But just to give this example, I want them to be planning for what both the chatter out how they’re going to respond to the chatter when it inevitably shows up. Now, you might think, Well, that sounds pretty pessimistic, you know, what do you think they’re just gonna have, something bad’s gonna happen? And I’ll be like, yeah, client, actually I do. I think there’s no perfect games, or rarely, I guess, certainly in baseball, there could be am, but there’s really nothing, no perfection going to happen out there. So I know at some point, the shed is going to hit the fan. At some point, Adversity is going to strike. At some point, you might make a mistake, you might miss a ball, you might have your coach might say something to you that you didn’t want him or her to say to you. How do you want to begin to kind of imagine responding to that, when the chatter shows up when you drop a ball, or you miss a shot? You know, and kids and people already know long before the game is going to begin, what their Chatter is going to say that’s one of the ways I intervene. And one of the fun things I get to do, it’s in the book is, I get them to realize it can be a Tuesday and you’re playing on a Saturday, you already know what your chapter is going to say. When you drop that pass. What’s it going to say? Athlete? Oh, my God, you suck. Oh, my God, I can’t believe I think the coaches are watching oh my god, I don’t think you’re ever going to be able to catch another one. What if you don’t catch another pass? We go through how that is such stereotypical, like, shatter. And I go through all of that with them. And then we go through how do you want to respond to it. And by responding to it, it doesn’t mean just telling yourself you’re great, and telling yourself not to worry about it. Just to move one step ahead. Here, as I go through in the book, The question really becomes is where you’re going to focus? Where do you want to focus next. But focusing is really hard to do if you haven’t yet kind of released the chatter. It’s hard to focus if you haven’t done something with the chatter, otherwise, it will just follow you around and wreak havoc on you. So planning for chatter means planning for your responses to it, and how you want to not be caught up. I don’t want my athletes surprised that chatter showed up. I want them to be welcoming it in so to speak as a uninvited guest, but a guest that’s going to show up no matter what.


Clint Murphy  33:44

Do you ever Mitchell? Have them do thought auditing, if you will. So the mental chatter comes, I’m going to write it down on a piece of paper. On the other side of the paper, I’m going to write down some more logically driven thoughts. And I’ll come back and look at the two side by side and say, Well, which one of these is more real? The negative mental chatter or on the side of the other side of the page, the work I did the prep I did, why I’m ready to play the game. So that we’re, we’re recognizing, hey, this Chatter is always going to come but if I also recognize that every time that negative chatter comes, I can write it down. And then I can write more logical thoughts on the other side of the page that are more accurate when I come back and read them then i less than the power over me.


Mitchell Greene  34:33

Yeah, I do exercise is very similar to that not just getting ready for a game but as you’re maybe alluded to even just during the week, because it’s often the case that my athletes have chatter, you know, not just for regarding game day, they may have it in their academic life or their social life. And yes, I want them to get into the habit of welcoming or making room for these types of thoughts to show up and begin to not think there’s something wrong with them. or that they’re a wimp or a coward for having them. I don’t necessarily talk to people about real and not real thoughts or legitimate and non legitimate thoughts in the way some people who do CBT work, I consider all thoughts legitimate, even the negative ones, even the chattery ones, but I get them to see that they’re not their thoughts. I get them to see that they’re having thoughts, but they not there they are themselves are not their thoughts. And part of the reason again, that I’m able to drive that point home is because I’ll say to somebody, you know, here you are getting ready for the next tournament, or the next, you know, you’re traveling to Europe for training for six months to get ready for a huge event. Like, if all you were chatter, if all you were that negativity, you would have quit by now, this we wouldn’t be having this conversation. It’s clear to me that you’re bigger than all those thoughts. Otherwise, there is no podcast, there is no training dates on the calendar, there is no signing up for a new race. And so but yes, fundamentally, to answer your question, those types of exercises, I think are helpful because sometimes people aren’t aware that that and writing it down, is that old fashioned way to get it out of your head and write it down? He’s definitely one of my go to’s client. Yes.


Clint Murphy  36:15

And so then that once we recognize that it’s going to come you talk about the fact that we want to make room for it. And I love this quote that I’ll read for you and let you to set up a little bit of a picture and let you color in the lines. My clients have benefited from viewing chatter as a houseguest who shows up even though they didn’t want visitors. In the past, your instinct may have been not to answer your door, when chatter came knocking, but Chatter is a persistent bugger, who will just keep banging on the door? Sooner or later, you’ll have to let this guest in, why not open the door and be done with it?


Mitchell Greene  36:55

Well, thank you, I enjoyed writing that. And I think it clearly sort of gives people the idea that we’re no longer resisting, avoiding running away from denying that chatter is going to be on the scene, whether we like it or not. And so the conversations I enter in with my clients, this is often a very different approach than they’re used to. And I try to put in the book and for those listening, it’s counterintuitive. And I appreciate that it’s very counterintuitive, and can be a little sometimes tricky to know how to do it, or how if you’re adopting it, the well and or the right way. So I don’t want people to think again, it’s like a light switch, you’re going to sort of read about my approach and just grab onto it. and off you go. It takes some, it takes some thinking and some conversations about how to best do it, but just having my athletes I’ve learned from over the years. And that’s kind of why partly why I wrote the book was people would come back to me after my first sort of explanation about my full explanation of chatter, and why it shows up, people would come back into like, the second session, and I haven’t really told them like, you know, try to remember this or that. They’d say, Oh, my chatter, you know, was really bad. But then I scored a goal. And then it got really good. And my chatter, this and my chatter, that I realized, there’s really something to this, people are grabbing on to this concept. And so just having people go into games and just start to even notice that there’s multiple conversations going on one that says, I’m going to go try to score a goal. And another one says, What if you don’t, that level of initial self awareness can lead to from real progress. And from there, you know, some very exciting things can happen.


Clint Murphy  38:42

I really want to spend a little time chewing on that one. Because for me, I recognize probably around 35, Mitchell, that was probably the biggest life changing change in how I approached my world was that simple self awareness that there was a voice that was going on in my head consistently, right was telling me things that, let’s say weren’t accurate, or tended to be negative. And I referred to it with a bit of an Eastern, the monkey mind. And once I recognize the monkey mind, it allowed me as you say, to when it came, welcome it. And sometimes early on, I don’t necessarily do it anymore, but I would just smile in the real world and say to it, oh, monkey mind. You know, I see you. I see you. I know that’s you. And you know, you say what you want, but I know it’s your monkey mind and just let it let it go. You get its thing out and eventually the more I would just welcome it to come in and say Hey, I see you. I see you, the less it would come.


Mitchell Greene  39:58

Yeah,  I think there’s some element of it sort of disappears. It has no, there’s because it takes there’s no more fight, or there’s less fight. You know, what keeps it alive is the resistance. It’s the resistance is its fuel. So when you would say, oh my god, I can’t believe I’m thinking that it would have something to cut to respond to like, Oh yeah, you better think about this. But when you’re sort of saying, I’m no longer fighting with myself, it can go. And I think, I think that’s, like, what I talked about what’s can be transformative, and you have your own personal experience with it. It’s amazing what can happen. And it’s, you know, what we’re really doing, what I’m really doing is sort of teaching I’m really feel like I’m a teacher. At heart, I really feel like I’m a clinician at heart, you know, I’m a sports person, but I’m really I feel as I feel like I’m a therapist, and a teacher. And I’m teaching like good players how to become great competitors, like they know how to play well, I don’t, they can teach me how to play some of these sports, right. But they don’t know how to compete and to be a great competitor in sports and in life. You know, from our point of view, and your I know, you’re you drink the Kool Aid, too, is you need to learn how to manage this mind, that will try to bring you down this part of your mind.


Clint Murphy  41:20

Yeah, I do think that to achieve almost anything at the highest level, so you have to learn how to control that mental part of the game. And I mean, I tend to go, you need to be able to resolve your hardware. So your inner conditioning, your software, which is what we’re talking about is the thoughts that we’re having, we need to learn how to control that software, or upgrade or improve the software. And then the last step, which these athletes all have in spades ahead of you and I is your operating systems. So they’ve got the operating systems, now you’re trying to help them, let’s work on your software. Yeah, let’s get the software running at full speed, and then you’ll be the machine, we want you to be.


Mitchell Greene  42:05

Yeah, that’s a lovely way to put it. And I think and more and more kids if we just focus on the kids, although for me kids ranged, you know, for me, at my stage, a kid could still be someone, you know, when they’re close to 30, they still not getting a lot of this type of information that we’re talking about today. I still, you know, they’re not necessarily hearing it in the clubhouse. They’re not hearing it in the locker room. They’re not hearing it from their coaches. And so there are times where these when people are coming to me to talk to me about these types of things. It’s the first time they really learning how to manage it, and are both appreciative and thankful that now they can begin to realize why they are the way they are or how why it is they do what they do. And you know, that’s why I appreciate being on here, I get a chance to sort of spread the word.


Clint Murphy  42:56

And Mitchell, I’m like you with the kid, they have a general rule if someone’s closer to age to my to my son, my oldest son is they are to me that it feels like they’re more kids. And yeah, sad part is every year that the age of that person grows. So for me, it’s roughly 29 Yeah, you hit 30. Hey, you’re grown up now. But 29, you’re still you’re still a kid.


Mitchell Greene  43:21

That is so true. So exactly as me too.


Clint Murphy  43:24

Like, well, you can’t be an adult, you’re the same age as my kid. That’s totally fair. So we focus a lot on result oriented goals. And result oriented goals can be beneficial. But when it comes to working with our mind chatter, to some extent, you want us to put the results oriented goals into the back pocket and focus on action goals. So what’s the difference for our listeners between a results oriented goal and then action goal and why do we want to back pocket the results and focus on the actions?


Mitchell Greene  44:04

Yeah, well,   main reason is you want to have results oriented goals, you want to try to come in the top 10. In a race, you want to try to score five points in a basketball game or get three assists, or you help your team win or make the playoffs, I would hope that my athletes that I’m working with would want those things you know, who doesn’t want to win a game or go low in a round of golf. But the problem so to speak is that you can’t directly control any of those outcomes. If you could always control how well you’re going to play in a golf match. You’d always play that well. If you could always score 10 points in a basketball game when you want to. You could always score 10 points. But of course, that’s not kind of how it works. And so having those goals help set the direction and give you an idea of what you need to do and the kind of work you need to do in the gym, to be able to score those kinds of points and how you have to work on your moves on the court and practice your shooting. But once you get to the game, because you don’t have direct control over them, they’re generally unhelpful and actually can just make you more chattery. What are helpful was what I refer to as those front pocket goals. Those are small, controllable type goals that you could put your attention on, when Chatter is trying to steal your attention, you’re going to have these front pocket goals to put your attention on and they’re kind of should be action oriented, not necessarily, or not outcome oriented, not I’m going to try to score 10 points, more like I’m going to try to get to this position on the floor and call for the ball. And when I get it, turn around and shoot like that will put you in a position or a better position to be able to reach the kind of outcome goals that you’re seeking. So they’re controllable, it might be when I get the ball, I’m gonna go to the basket, instead of just shooting from the outside, that’s a an action that you want to take, that doesn’t guarantee you’re going to score. But that’s going to hopefully help you become a better player, or put pressure on your defense or help your other teammates benefit because now they’re worried more about you as a player. So these front pocket goals are often a missing ingredient for the athletes, they go into the games, hoping to play well wanting to score points wanting to run fast. And just hope that happens. Of course, hope isn’t a really good strategy. When you get into high competition, you don’t need hope you need focus. And then setting those types of small action goals can be while you manage the chatter better, again, is one of those key ingredients that helps people turn their games around. They’re just the last thing I’ll say about it, the most common mistake that I see, one of the reasons I really spent a lot of time writing about goal setting is people sometimes will say, Well, I tried that goal setting, it just doesn’t work. And it’s true, it won’t work. If you haven’t done the first step about managing chatter, you know, if you set the goal about I’m going to get to this position on the floor. And then I’m going to try to drive to the basket. Yes, that’s maybe a good goal to have. But if you haven’t learned how to manage the chatter, you’re still going to get to that position on the floor. And your Chatter is going to say, you probably shouldn’t shoot because you’re probably going to miss or whatever your chatter runs amok with. So it requires first managing it, and then picking that goal, and then trying to commit to it in the next game.


Clint Murphy  47:33

And then the last question on the book, on the process happens to be the title of your book. Courage Over Confidence, can you tell us more about that last step?


Mitchell Greene  47:45

Sure. So as you may have gleaned from the podcast, those who are listening, and for those who read my book, you’ll see that   sometimes think confidence gets too much hype as a necessary ingredient to athlete’s success. If you’re feeling confident, and I think that’s great. And that will presumably help you compete. But what do you do, if you’re not confident. People don’t come knocking on my door, when they’re feeling confident, they come when the chips are down, when they’re demoralized and don’t know whether they’re going to be able to sort of succeed again. And in those situations, especially, it’s what happened the way I presented, it’s less about being confident, it’s really an act of courage to step up and drive to the basket, or run the pace that you have been training at, in a road race, for example. And courage is only possible. There’s only such a such a thing as courage. Let me say it differently. You can’t be courageous except in the presence of doubt and fear, doubt and fear sort of set the table for opportunities for you to be courageous. So I begin to kind of flip things on its head with my athletes, and say, We’re beginning to look at the doubt and fear not as a sign that something wrong, but really more as an opportunity for us an opportunity for us to practice courage, even if we’re not confident. And what that looks like is the courage to stay focused on those action goals, those front pocket goals, it could be the courage to put results aside and to play with the kind of energy and spirit that kind of makes this sport what it means you know what it is to you. Courage is more of a commitment and a choice, where confidence is a feeling that can come and go. And, you know, as I talked about in the book, I love to ski and I love to ski some really gnarly stuff. And, you know, if I waited for confidence to come at the top of some of those trails, you know, I’d still be up there. Now. You know, it takes courage to point your skis down and figure out okay, it’s a quick turn to the left and then a quick thing to the right. And I might fall and I have to get up but the next time I get up to that top of the trail, I now have a little more confidence because I kind of know a little bit more about what to expect and how I want to respond to those adverse situations. And so the approach of courage overconfidence occurs. Overconfidence is a phrase that I actually trademark is a powerful sort of drive home tool for my athletes. He and I have wristbands that say, courage, overconfidence, I have them, other ways that they could remind themselves that if they’re not confident, they can still compete at a high level, if they manage the chatter, and commit to playing with great courage.


Clint Murphy  50:35

So even if the chatters there, shooter, shoot, take the shot. Yeah, let the belief come after you sink a few.


Mitchell Greene  50:44

Yeah, and not just shooter shoot. But when you’re shooting, what’s important, what’s important is my elbow. Because when I tend to miss, I tend to do one of these side elbow things that I want them to think about not just that shooter shoot, which is helpful. But what’s important about my shooting, I don’t want them like analyzing and overanalyzing their technique to the point that they feel it’s mechanical. But in a gentle way, when I go up to I want to be able to think ball comes to me, I want to think elbow, I don’t want to think shooter shoot, I don’t want to think I just want to think elbow because I know when my elbows here, I know that people can’t necessarily see. But when your elbows at a 90 degree angle as a basketball shooter, that puts you in a better position to be able to get that flow and follow through. And for that particular athlete, let’s say their tendency is to kind of do some sloppy thing. Because the truth is shooters shoot, but you’re more likely to actually make it if your elbows where it’s supposed to be or if your ball toss and tennis is at the height where it’s supposed to be. So part of the response piece of my book, and the work I do is isn’t just, you just got to go forward and be courageous, you got to do that in an intentional, focused way. And for each athlete, it’s figuring out what those areas of focus will be.


Clint Murphy  52:14

Making that area of focus a cube, that simple to memorize. So when I go to shoot, I might say, a one word to myself elbow, and I know all right, focus on my elbow, I can let go of what’s happening in the background, I can focus on the elbow, and I can let my shot go.


Mitchell Greene  52:32

Correct. Simple, easily remembered, as you said, and that’s the fun of it is for everybody, it’s a little something different than we have to be creative and clever and sometimes humorous, to try to get them to figure out what their vocal cue.


Clint Murphy  52:49

Alright, Mitchell will fire for rapid fire questions that you to tour as we start to wrap things up, what has been a book that’s had a significant impact on your life?


Mitchell Greene  53:00

Well, I would be remiss to not say the inner game of tennis, the inner game of tennis as those who will have read my book and have read that book will immediately recognize that he was also talking about a conversation going on. He refers to it as self one and self two, I have my way of talking about it, really one of my sort of hidden goals, Clint, in writing this book. And I don’t claim to necessarily have accomplished it. But my goal was to try to kind of write more of a modern day version of inner game of tennis. And of course, anyone who reads into game of tennis realizes it’s really not just about tennis, although that’s clearly where his expertise lies. That has been probably one of the most influential books that that has everything to do with how I do what I do. Today, as much as with a few other people as well. He talks about competition, and about competition wouldn’t you know, there’s a quote, which I’m just gonna paraphrase that competition wouldn’t be as scary or self image was at stake. So he’s talking about these, that’s not the exact quote, but that’s, that’s the fundamental piece of it. He talks about competition, it’s not really about how well you slice your backhand, it’s really that you are putting your self image your self worth, your whole identity seems to be at stake in that upcoming match. And that’s why you’re choking and those, you know, that’s why you’re not that’s why you’re underperforming. And are you aware of that athlete. That book really puts that into perspective. And that’s really become kind of the, you know, the focal point of how I tend to work with athletes is getting them more aware of what’s at stake for them.


Clint Murphy  54:39

And what are you reading right now?


Mitchell Greene  54:41

I am reading what I just almost done with Shoe Dog, the book about Phil Knight, and Nike. I wish I liked it and why it was so highly recommended to me. I thought I had to read it. I like it. I don’t love it, but I like it. Of course the story is quite the story is a remarkable one. And if you want to talk about out courage, overconfidence, just look at, just look at somebody like Phil Knight who was rarely confident in his early years that, that this business was going to do any kind of have any success, he became an accountant during part of it because he needed to bring money in. He was flying to Japan to try to solicit the guys who are creating his the early shoes before they were even Nike to send it to them. And then they decided to back to bail on him. And they picked somebody else. And then he had a form this kind of his own company, out of nowhere on a shoot on a basically no budget. So when I read books like that, I think not just about the actual story, but I think about it inspires me as a businessman, as well like that, you know, these guys are not like overnight successes, you know, there’s a whole lot of sweat and tears, and courage that makes them as successful as they are. So that’s what I’m getting out of the Shoe Dog book.


Clint Murphy  56:05

I love it. What’s one thing that you’ve spent less than $1,000 on that Mitchell’s thought to himself, I should have bought this earlier?


Mitchell Greene  56:13

Something I’ve spent less than $1,000 on that I think I should have bought earlier? That’s a good question. Probably my guitar. I’ve taken up guitar as an older guy. And I think boy, if I had started earlier, I would be much further along by now and being able to jam out in the way that I wanted to jam out. Might you know sooner? So I probably would say guitar.


Clint Murphy  56:44

I love that answer. Something I’ve thought about going back to at some point. So I love it. So this shows about growth. So what’s one mindset shift habit or behavior change you’ve made that’s had an oversized impact on your life.


Mitchell Greene  56:59

You know, I think a few years ago, I went rock climbing with my wife and the guy guiding us up these dissents kept reminding me to be light. Stay light, because the instinct for anybody, including me is to get on a rock face. And it’s scary, is to grip it with your entire forearms and biceps, because I’d like to think of myself as a strong guy. But of course, rock climbing isn’t about revving it as hard as you can with your forms of biceps, because they tire out way too quickly. It’s really much more about your legs. And it’s about being light and having a light touch, and kind of helping your arms guide you where you need to go not pull you up the rocks. That’s amateur hour. And of course, it was very helpful. So I think I’ve adopted this sort of mantra for myself, most mornings, including this morning, when I think about all I have to do about how light can I be? How light can I be today? Yes, I have this. And I have that. And I worried about this. And I’m thinking about that. But I remind myself of that experience on the rocks. And I feel like that’s very grounding for me to remind myself that I have a choice about lightness. I have a choice about that. And I don’t even remember the original question, but that’s what you made me think of if I hope that answers it. But that’s kind of something that’s been helpful to me.


Clint Murphy  58:26

Yeah, that was very good. And we went pretty wide, pretty deep on the book. Is there anything that we missed that you want to make sure we can get across to the listeners?


Mitchell Greene  58:38

I think the only thing is to, to know and hopefully for those of you who read the book, you’ll come to see. And thank you Clint, because it’s clear, you’ve you know, gone through the book and really picked out some pieces of AI that makes it fun for me. So thank you for that is that this isn’t a book just for athletes. You know, if you’re a coach, if you’re an athletic director, if you’re in a sports department, we’re really some of the greatest feedback I’m getting from people is, you know, my sport is life. And so I had to make a decision when I was writing the book about you know, how do I just write it for sport? Because I had some people say, Why don’t you just write this for everyone. And, of course, it applies to everyone, but I decided at least for now, let’s just stick to this. But for people to know that even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete or you’re not doggedly determined, as an athlete, I’d like to think that you could find something in the book about shatter and about how it operates that applies to you because of course we all have chattery moments in our lives and knowing better how to handle it can provide some great relief. So thank you.


Clint Murphy  59:39

100% And where can our listeners find you?


Mitchell Greene  59:44

So I think the best ways are through my website, which is And that’s green with an E at the end of and I’m very active on Instagram and that is what is it? It is @Greenepsych. Greene Pscyh and so between my website and the Instagram world, you’ll be able to find me and follow me.


Clint Murphy  1:00:08

Excellent. Thank you for joining us today on the growth credit. It was great to have a conversation with you.


Mitchell Greene  1:00:12

Thank you Clint. Really thank you not just for making time but for having dug into the book and asking some great questions from it. I’m very appreciative.

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