How Memory Improves Your Mental Performance

There are connections between how different performers think and your brain’s connections to memory can overcome the limitations of them all

Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.
4 min readMay 17, 2021


“I need to score before I get my confidence back!”

That’s what I heard a young footballer say recently. And I couldn’t help think that it was ironic. Because the reality is you don’t have to wait to score before you get your confidence back.

You must do the opposite, that being, be confident first and then score the goals.

Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

Because many people and not only footballers lose confidence in themselves and straight away think of what they are missing that affects their confidence.

Although it’s true to say that when you reach a dry patch in sports and fail to score you need to change your performance fast.

Many players decide to knuckle down and train harder, train more often, and smarten up their diet. They become almost obsessed with scoring a goal. When they get a ball in an attacking position they immediately try to carve out an opportunity for themselves to shoot and score even if the better option is to pass the ball to another player on the team who are in a much better goal-scoring position.

And when you lose money the first thing many people think about is the absence of money.

As the money is no longer coming into a person’s bank account the first thing many notice is the absence of the money. This then leads them to think about what they won’t be able to buy anymore. This may include their basic needs such as the ability to pay rent, the buying of food, and personal care products.

Or it may mean that they realize they need to cut back on socializing for a time.

Then there are actors who are finding high performance impossible to achieve.

Because struggling actors often decide to take any old acting job to pay the bills.

And let’s face it being an actor is not that appealing as the vast majority of these performers are penniless especially earlier on in their career. That’s often until they get their first big break. So many successful actors do roles earlier in their career they aren’t proud of and often look back on it and wish they hadn’t done them by the time they’ve reached a further point of success in their career.

But at the time they were probably desperate to pay their bills or do as their agent said simply because they were getting used to the industry.

For many different people and performers, there are moments when their mental performance evaporates.

And the knee-jerk reaction is to try to force the outcome so that mental performance levels are back on track. But in doing so there is a contradiction. Because trying to force your mind to do anything is disrupting its flow to perform.

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

To best understand this you need to think of when things are going well for you during the performance.

When a performer is at the top of their game there is little effort. Instead, it seems as if everything they do will produce great results.

They can do no wrong.

The footballer scores goals for fun and doesn’t think about the positioning or shots they are going to take to manufacture a goal.

The business person relies on a greater degree of instinct in doing a deal and doesn’t question the specifics around the financial decisions that they’ve to make.

The actor performs and every time they do their agent’s phone is ringing promising them that there’s another great role offered to them.

Everything is happening in flow.

And when your mental performance diminishes, understandably, you decide to work a lot harder to get back to that degree of success. But when it doesn’t come back straight away the feelings can change and confidence can be challenged. So much so that the energy a performer is putting out becomes agitated and frustrated.

That’s when a dip in performance becomes a more permanent reality.

Rather than being excited to perform nerves take over. And as there’s a fine line between both nerves and excitement during performance it’s usually the latter when things will go from bad to worse.

And that’s when performers find themselves in a funk.

That’s why when things aren’t going well doing less about is better than overworking the approach to figuring out the problem. Because when performance levels dip you need to shift your energy back to when you were in a state of flow. By over-planning, overthinking, overanalyzing, and overworking energy is compromised and the result will be a performance that will coming from desperation rather than being effortless.

Because when you’re at the top of your game in any aspect of performance you’re trusting your ability to succeed.

Regaining that trust in yourself is one of the main priorities of maximizing your performance. And by doing what comes easily by using a series of techniques you’ll master your performance again and be put you back on track to where you want to be.

Photo by Ben Guerin on Unsplash

So before your performance dips know your value and remember those successful feelings.

And if they drop rather than scurrying to force the performance back instead recall the feelings of success and watch how your performance grows back into full flow.

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Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.

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