Mental strength: acknowledge what you feel

— 16 maart 2019

In February I gave a lecture at X, TU Delft, on mental strength. There were many questions about handling our feelings: is it better to ignore negative feelings and persevere or should you listen to them?

Below is an excerpt from my lecture about Mental Strength. If you want to know more, please contact me!


“The second skill to empower is to feel. Elite sport hurts.

At first it frightens you to go into the extremes your body can endure and deliver. But fear doesn’t allow you to bring out the best; it slows us down and blocks us.
So you will have to find ways to cope with that feeling, with the pain as good as with the fear for the pain.



For me, it was about acknowledging these signs from within. Acknowledge and become familiar with the anxiety, nerves, pain. I had to understand why these signs where there, and to use my mental strength to consciously put them aside, to ease the panic, and to carry on. To focus on my task in that moment: deliver the best stroke I could, one by one.

The thing about feelings is that they keep knocking on your inner door as long as you don’t want or dare to pay attention to them. And as long as they are knocking on your door, they disturb and distract your attention from your task. It brings you to thoughts as ‘what am I doing here’, or ‘another 10 strokes and then I will quite’.


meant to be used

So it’s a good idea to listen to your feelings, to acknowledge them and to find out why they are there: mostly feelings are trying to protect you from getting hurt.
They are trying to get you back into a safe and comfortable situation. But developing yourself is mostly not about being comfortable, so you’ll have to find a way to pass through, and that is where you need your conscious mind.

As soon as feelings are acknowledged, they get at ease. So tell your feelings that you have heard them, but that you – despite of the pain in you legs – are determined to finish this race. Or to keep studying for this subject you dislike.

Feelings are to be felt; it is information from your self, from inside. Meant to be used. If you succeed to understand what they say, you’re giving direction to yourself, and that’s what mental strength is about.”


want to know more?

Did you miss the interactive lecture on Mental Empowerment? Or did you participate and want more? Contact Herzien to discuss the possibilities!