DiscoverThe Tim Ferriss Show#256: How to Overcome Anxiety and Stress - with Adviser to Olympians, Michael Gervais

#256: How to Overcome Anxiety and Stress - with Adviser to Olympians, Michael Gervais

Update: 2017-08-027


Michael Gervais (@michaelgervais) is the performance psychologist elite athletes and coaches turn to when they want to level up or when they're returning from hard times and want to not just get back to where they were, but exceed their previous highest levels of excellence. His clients include Olympic gold medalists, Super Bowl champion NFL coaches, you name it. In this episode, we discuss how to win the war against anxiety, some of the more effective (and less effective) ways to self-talk, behind-the-scenes stories of Michael's clients, understanding the process to mastery, and much more. This episode comes from my new television show Fear{less}, where I interview world-class performers on stage about how they've overcome doubt, conquered fear, and made their toughest decisions. You can watch the entire first episode with illusionist David Blaine for free at (To watch all episodes, please visit DIRECTV NOW.) We recorded three hours of material and only one hour was used for the TV show. This podcast episode is almost entirely new content that didn't appear on TV. Enjoy! Show notes and links for this episode can be found at This podcast is brought to you by Ascent Protein, the only US-based company that offers native proteins -- both whey and micellar casein -- directly to the consumer for improved muscle health and performance. Because the product is sourced from Ascent's parent company, Leprino Foods -- the largest producer of mozzarella cheese in the world -- it's entirely free of artificial ingredients and completely bypasses the bleaching process common to most other whey products on the market. If you want cleaner, more pure, less processed protein -- which I certainly do -- go to for 20 percent off your entire order! This podcast is also brought to you by Audible. I have used Audible for years, and I love audiobooks. I have two to recommend: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman Vagabonding by Rolf Potts All you need to do to get your free 30-day Audible trial is visit Choose one of the above books, or choose any of the endless options they offer. That could be a book, a newspaper, a magazine, or even a class. It's that easy. Go to and get started today. Enjoy.

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manufacturer even filtering per team for more than thirty years and there are few important things to take away from this number one zero artificial ingredients that is a solid claim is much stricter than all natural number two they've done extensive testing so the chocolate which I've been using after every workout also in the mornings was finalized after two hundred and eighty two recipes were vetted and that perhaps most important I talk about less processed they avoid steps like bleaching and this is a porn understand so it's it's a very big deal that hasn't yet caught on for sports nutrition traditional way proteins are a byproduct of cheese making like I mentioned many of the proteins are therefore orange in color because they were sourced from say cheddar cheese production because companies can't sell orange powder is no other strawberry they have to bleach the proteins white this harms the proteins and leaves traces of bleach in the product that is no window no good in Pharma companies for instance have banned the use of bleach proteins already in them in their products and that is why sense parent company of the Prima Foods is the Number one supplier of protein to infant formula companies so all that said you were clean or pure less process protein which I certainly do and I'm really excited to be using this protein and I just ran out of chocolate so I need another bag check it out go to scent protein dot com forward slash him that A S C E N T protein protein dot com For slashed him and you can receive twenty percent off of your entire order if you want a quick twenty five gram dose to start your day for instance your costs low carb diet after workout this is a great option they also have my cellar key scene which a slower release you can check them out so take a look into a cent protein dot com forward slash him the This episode is brought you by audible which I've used for many I absolutely love audio books in there one of my favorite ways to pass the time when I travel home on the road all the time inaudible allows me to consume many more books than I possibly could otherwise i've to audio books to recommend right off the bat the first to suppress my favorite audiobook of all time it's the only audio book I've wanted to listen to twice in a row The graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman's it's amazing and you'll thank me there are few different versions I like the version that he'll narrate himself one of the most soothing voices of all time the second book is a vagabond ing by Rolf Potts P O T T S which had a huge impact in my life in form the basis for a lot of what would later become the four hour work week so go to audible dot com forward slash to him and you can choose one of these two books or any of many many other options that could be books magazines and much more as a listener of that unfair show you can also access a free thirty day trial just go to audible dot com forward slash to him you can take more time but you can make the most of it so turn your travel or your commute into something more with a free trial at audible go to audible dot com for such Tim to start now and get your free thirty day trial the the head of maybe two little munchkins its diverse welcome to another so that impair show where does my job to deconstruct world class performers to tease out the habits routines favorite books et-cetera that you can use this episode features Michael Gervais and that is at Michael Gervais G E R V A I s on Twitter Michael is one of the few performance psychologists that elite athletes and coaches among others turn to when they want to level up or when they're returning from hard times and want to not just get back to where they were but exceed their previous highest levels of excellence his clients include Olympic gold medalists Super Bowl winning NFL coaches you name it it's an incredible incredible roster in this episode we discuss how to win the war against anxiety some of the more effective and less effective ways even self defeating ways to self talk behind the scenes stories of Michael's client's understanding the power to master the process to mastery and much more the audience who deserves it comes from a new TV show fearless which is fear in unless a prince is because not about being fearless but learning to fearless where I interview people like this world class performers on stage for a live audience but how they've overcome doubt conquered fear me their toughest decisions and so on you can watch the entire first episode which is with David Blaine the illusionist and master in Durant artists for free at a T T dot net for slash fearless that's a TT dot net for such fearless into what all of the episodes there are ten of them you can go to Tim the blog for such fearless no princes just in the blog for such fearless and if your core characters click on DirecTV now which is a button there in any of the packages get the show so you can choose the cheapest one if you like and we recorded three hours material in this particular episode Michael only is used for TV so this podcast episodes almost entirely new exclusive content or yell my listeners salvia and it did not appear on TV so I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did and without further ado here is Michael Irvin the the I well the last post in Paris this very stage will be deconstructing world class performers of all different types to uncover the specific tactics they use to overcome doubt tackle the hard decisions ultimately succeed on their own terms so as a self tanning hundred and twenty seven thousand feet above the earth trying to set the freefall world record or stepping onto the field for the Superbowl or perhaps attempting to take gold at the Olympics if you are nervous for her to prepare for that who would you turn to who you ask for help in less than a decade my guess is built a very impressive client roster that includes Linda Gold medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings teams like the Seattle Seahawks and the U S armed forces please walk the stage Doctor Michael J the the the uh is that hes gonna get a version of the oh describe your family a little bit when your parents do d of siblings yeah okay song I have one younger sister I was actually born in a city and they said OK we're done and they moved us to the farm a farm and not this isn't a glamorous farm we had like twelve chickens and a pony not not not a glamorous farm and so they moved out to the farm to get away to get back to finding who they were and so that was what it felt like for me for a long time we didn't have heat in the winter and the older Virginians we had a wood burning stove that at age six seven eight years old I was chopping wood literally carrying a lot of wood pops and hey listen if you want to be warm tonight that was going into the fireplace so that's where Russia like I figured out some routes and and that sorted out what it meant to listen to nature into law a large amount of land behind us and we didn't have lights and streetlights and I needed to figure out my parents really were laissez faire if you will they allow me to explore and so fighting at home by a knight on is a long and so here is that was never really got stuck out at night but the fear of that was real and so I figured out how to tune a bit to nature and working hard was just part of the process and when that change when did you went to the farm cease to be home base and middle of fourth grade which is I think is an important footnote that was the middle of the school year because I did that to me a couple times and so changing it in a school grade is one thing but then changing in the middle requires a different type of transition skill and so being put in an Amphitheatre whatever the Tampa Theatre is one of the greatest teachers and let alone far beyond what we learn from books and watching others but figuring out transitions or any other skill is really important by doing and so welcome to California had the go for it is hard for you and what did you specific tactics that used approaches to no I didn't have that as a fourth grader and have any tactics I was like OK I'm gonna miss my friends but this seems like it could be okay because they sold me on California The Dream of California we moved again and so we went to Northern California Southern California and it was mid year mid year again freshman year and so actually move again in six grade at the beginning of the or not it would be nice if the team ran through but we moved on to Southern California and I want to go I wasn't into it up where I was growing up the time I was just a lot of fun with motocross and motorcycle BMX and just loving that type of stuff up in Northern California and is it so it was the right move for the family they drag me along with them and then and there I am in Southern California I know that there's that story that I hear often from some of the best in the world that they knew at an early age that they wanted to do fill in the blanks whether it's music or sports or arts or business I didn't have that I was really more interested in today and figuring out how to do today the best way I possibly could as a six year old in the sixteen year old knowing my family went to college I didn't know anyone that went to college I did and if they did they did talk about it and I certainly didn't know anyone that a graduate degree you did in school no school was the assistants assistant principal the dean of my high school pulled my hand then girlfriend now why cool story pulled aside and said What is a nice girl like you dating survey the So I have become heavy in school the way that went down but that was an indication that I was on not on the right path and I didn't have a structure to really help me get off so I learned a lot the hard way and I had no idea that there was even this profession about being able to give back through understanding how the mind works this about that on my journey began the the to teach any classroom and it is but a question mandate certain types of experiences for the high school students or in this case college students in what might they are or manage if I could muster to create a class shirt that was mandatory for incoming freshmen or whatever Yeah yeah it would be dangers and it would for sure we are raising children that are on holiday or but I'm sure you were probably kind with the seatbelt but not all is mostly off leash like right face planting spring on healthy stuff yet so our generation right now is everyone of them grew up with instant access to whatever and everyone is buckled in and no safety harnesses from the beginnings of their airline and we don't have a real appreciation for danger so we pop Asli walk around with the soft underbelly thinking that we understand what's true and real and beautiful and hard and honest and so it's the it's the rugged and hostile environments that teach us and they teach us by leveraging real fear and we say that we conquer fear we say that will do things but not until your squarely facing it down does the risk of putting yourself in that social situation provide insight but that class would be too dangerous for modern times so yeah like their big stuff that would possibly people get hurt which would make it real and maybe maybe somebody loses limbs or life or something which makes it real because this bubble that we live in is problematic for the next generation of the Lord of flies little I know I agree and couldn't agree more someone asked me recently shit is that of your thought about doing a summer camp for adults I kind of occasionally maybe after one thought about they're like Well what would you but when you have everyone do it would be mostly suffering you deftly exercise until you vomit it all the hands down but definitely undervalued is thought of the negative thing it was a teacher when was the first time when you felt like you had made a huge mistake filled first ok so the person that comes to mind I remain for sure but it was an entertainer that I just couldn't quite reach and it was hard and it was deep it was rich and she made it she survived but I wasn't able to kind of do what I hoped we would do and so it's those kind of hunting experiences that was not hunting but I knew that like I can't I can't connect in the way I can access the depth and richness that I need to go to because I had a limit I have limitations of what I was able to do at that time what with the eyes she could go deeper than I could go in what respects authenticity okay to talk about the real stuff so here's here's here's the full circle of the conversation before finish that story is that I don't think about failure that way though failure is not making a mistake that's not failure failure is not being authentic failure is not going for failure is being small when you win or not who you authentically you and you go for it ok it sounds easy sounds like you put that on and a fortune cookie but that's really what it's about so when you play it safe and small and you don't then you're not authentically yourself your whole day this is family your home under whole year and so I don't think about it like to win that's a lot that's a show that's a mistake that's good that's bad it's like the experience is a day to day orientation are trying to grow and it's relentless it's hard it's difficult and so back to those experiences that you know when I re shape how we think about failure really is about another I think at first but when we talk about the emotional piece is that if we can hold our ability to be authentically ourselves when it's difficult and not only emotional physical whatever to get to the emotional there's no mental difficulties there's no such thing because they're just words right and so it's the emotional thing that's the hardest for us and so we can hold presence this is the gift to give another person her whole presence when another person is rattling and there are EK here they're forming a really cool way but if you can't go deep enough to be able to hold true and to be authentic with them then they don't trust you they come up they take care of themselves and the work is not real in the case when you're having difficulty going as deep she was it's not having enough presence to awareness or she can tell you were truly paying attention not asking the hard harder questions I was overwhelmed since I couldn't be there authentically for another person and that is the essence of what love is how that manifests not being authentically there if you if you are having this conversation and you're checking your phone too dramatic or checking your phone you're looking at your watch you're checking to see if we're okay you're checking out because this is not interesting gonna be like if this like that this is the socks that one level it happens everyday all day long every airport and that's what's happening deeper than that is if I'm asked if she if he or she is saying something in there trying to see if they can go for and I'm missing it people all the time will tell you they are the lists have to be really present with them to hear the essence of what is what they're trying to communicate underneath a boy meets girl does Romeo and Juliet in every story but we have to look for which is the emotional gripping true experience of people are wanting to sort out so have to get under there to do it and I miss the lob that the person giving their out right and so that's kind of relationships or It was on the half yard line and it was a roller coaster of a fourth third and fourth quarter and Tom Brady on the other side and and that team they did phenomenal job that a phenomenal job and skilled very skilled so here it is on the on the house yard line the entire stadium the ball is going to go to our running back exceptional running back Marshawn Lynch and Bill Bell a check so not like mind you the intensity of trying to sort out what the next play is what the clocks going down was an emotional stimulation is taking place is not an easy thing to do that's a very complicated thing when the is losing their mind to be clear about what the options are and the pallet jack brings in his mentors stop the run game and the coaches alike because we brought in a particular unit that was just a beautiful plaque and it was a pass play and so you could kind of you can see that I can see the coaches go that's that's that's the matchup you want the exact match because that is another thing about this matchup is that the Seattle Seahawks are twenty percent from running from the Golan so it as a general rule we want to put people and organizations in positions of strength not roll the dice on positions of weakness so being twenty percent from the goal line those are not great shots to share so they're matching up for the run here we are trying to get to the room to the pass play and the balls and games over and what was happening on the sideline before that is that we were ahead of time the sidelines not the man out here but the sidelines were headed time about music about music in music is beautiful when it's on time even after some dissonance right but it went on time had a time is that this is that I think a patient is it creates chaos so we are on the sidelines because we were in the game had the time I went again this is that and all of sudden we thought it was ours non speaking about me really good time involves intercepted games than that team storms the field blue and I was a blue and silver ticker tape is coming down the sidelines was ours was like stunned that the emotions in the locker room afterwards it was the most intense environment I've ever been and that didn't have real violence yearning and searching and questioning why was on a scale of ten hundred anger and and just being pissed off about what just happened because the loss or brain is phenomenal as you well understand that there's no redundancy in the brains of the circuitry for grief and loss is the same circuitry for losing a game so it was great it was the most intense grief like somebody would just came in at the last moment that took away everything that you thought was yours and it was exciting at something you've worked your whole life or so coming to the locker room was sick for a crying six foot four ready to break someone's head open six foot two was was taken off his paper to punch somebody there was a person behind me that was screaming WHY WHY IS THIS happening there was there was another another athlete in the back that was kind of snickering and laughing and it was plenty people that were just completely completely overwhelmed and didn't want to feel what our personal family or maybe some baby steps remedial approach is that people can take if they had a hard time or suspect they would in my case I found the gateway drug to get moving in the right direction was guided meditations so listings that are broke or same era someone else who have a lot of guys get guided meditations basically every couple seconds and I may be a good thing about Porter to do was come back and in addition to that it found a few apps in the head space to your hopeful thing that actually help me to break through and maybe embarrassing the way to admit this was social accountability so actually I didn't take a course in the state in this case is trans nomination I knew I didn't meditate out after the session the next day our set aside for me to talk about my two sessions just feel like an ass and I also paid for it so those are few the crutches that I used early on to to get to the point where I had enough sessions in my belt that it became like brushing my teeth on some level in its armor a one point became obsessed with boot on why on earth did I become obsessed with the time well there's this very romanticized story of Gross National Happiness in the happiest country in the world so well one year they got overtaken in a poll by the name of the Danish are not happy people and I'm like that pain ok so I will plan of going to Denmark and you supposedly the happiest people in the family as I drink his beer as a body that isn't goes low expectations for the ladies of dismiss the job doesn't know there's actually something there and in my mind if I sat down and meditated and I wasn't on point like ninety plus percent of the time is thinking of is the most in terms of school grades still losing and I had because you weren't why wasn't I wasn't doing my job when the phone script and having conversations that are Brock this very well known Buddhist meditation teacher has great talks she is regularly in the recorded explains I can go from sitting down for twenty minutes or roughly twenty minutes and when I do in the morning when I can just eat most days I can spend ninety minutes thinking about some cartoon I watched as a kid like thunder cats like for nineteen minutes a little bit there is huge but ninety minutes into our cats and they come back and she says that a successful session because the training isn't getting it right it's the coming back coming back is the rep and was like oh okay as soon as I thought of in those terms suddenly I was having successful sessions until you have the misconception is the first rap is that like you just focus on your breathing there's two types of mindfulness training that the way that I've come to learn about a single point contemplated of a single point is one thing over and over and over again so you notice when you leave the moment moment and then the work is to come back and in that when one should become aware that you shifted from now the breath for that on the Monterey whatever it might be and you're over here what you do wish that I do say or do you say or do say I owe it to come do come back can you swiftly come back and can you do that I'll be doing whatever that's the work they like and then eventually eventually you'll slip into that no mines experience how my first my first teacher he said Mike Minor on like a whole day and he says if you are young and he says if you knew it I knew he'd be doing this everyday ok we need a sense it's like a full body organs the seller to the chalet okay there we go so I don't I'm still waiting so maybe he's older but you know like no all the major branding problem I've got to sell it as a full body orgasm people around the block so they left and I mentioned the importance of fighting earlier and I'm taking a context that it brings me back to the Seahawks in so much as I heard and this is not as someone who knows love football but that the Seahawk organization allows their players to resolve conflicts are out their differences on the sidelines amongst themselves on a regular basis that's true this is just something I know is that true ok so the statement was that the Seahawks allow athletes to work out their conflicts yet there's a conflict between players I think it was recently there was ok of all all all unpacked the story it just me repeating something I heard I yeah I mean okay so back to the principle that Coach Carroll set up that this is a relationship based organization and so when relationships matter like there's intensity of emotions so what happened just recently was this year one athlete was angry his pets his helmet and he was in a fit of rage and so does a couple courses that will take place a couple predictable things that could take place people below us too much now but stay away or they can come up and become aggressive with him and jump in his face and say That's not okay and so what most people do in most organizations when someone is raging I mean raging full of testosterone and strength as a backup because it's dangerous for them even though destruction is taking place right and when one person but that football is a beautiful team environment when one person's off the whole thing is working to try to help that person right and so that's what teens and tribes do to really help so it happens particular occasion this year is that one actually confronted them and b be the athlete that was over run with the motions I want nothing to do it another athlete stepped right in literally right next to him this is not orchestrated no one knows that this is going to happen ever stops right in grab his attention to the first athlete wants nothing to do with that person go forth and they literally up and it was this amazing experience and the athlete was so
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#256: How to Overcome Anxiety and Stress - with Adviser to Olympians, Michael Gervais