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McLaurin explains benefits of improving his mental health

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Professional Athletes will face an important point in their career when they need to ask themselves where they're headed next, and what it will take to get there. 

Terry McLaurin faces those questions all the time as the Washington Commanders' star receiver, and while much of the applies to his abilities on the field, that carries over into every aspect of his life. 

In a sit down with Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor on their podcast, The Pivot, the star wide receiver talked about pivotal moments in his personal life that have led to his change in mentality and an influx of personal growth, which has shined through to his on-field success. 

One of McLaurin's strengths is the ability to ask himself difficult questions and evaluate who he is as a player and person. Like the work he does in the offseason, the key to improving who he is off the field has been his work ethic, which he got from watching his parents from a young age. 

McLaurin talked about the feeling he experienced when he got to Washington and the reality of the pressure many players face when they get to this level. An insecurity developed in other parts of McLaurin's life; he found himself on autopilot, leading to him seek therapy. 

"It's like you're pouring into a glass with no bottom at the end," McLaurin said. "And at the end, you're not being filled up by the right things."

McLaurin went into therapy not knowing what to expect, but the journey has been a transformative experience for him.

"Therapy has taught me how to be vulnerable, to trust the people around me, to learn how to be a great friend, to be compassionate, to be able to validate someone's feelings, to be able to handle and process conflict, to express my emotions," McLaurin said. "It's taught me how to overcome the challenges we're all gonna face in life."

A part of McLaurin's journey was establishing a balance between content and satisfaction. His self-exploration has allowed him to answer questions about himself and taught him to process his feelings, impacting who he is as a leader on and off the field.

"I had to learn how to not only process my feelings but then check in with myself," McLaurin said. "What does that mean for me, and then how do I not have the same reactions going forward? How do I have these hard conversations about certain things I'm going through with people who I truly love and care about?"

McLaurin's internal growth has given him the tools he needs to be a leader for the Commanders. When asked what will be different this season, McLaurin discussed the value of the people in the organization this year and how an aligned mindset of unselfishness helps them put together a winning performance on the field.

"You gain more with putting yourself on the side and putting all you can in for the team," McLaurin said. "And I think [Eric Bieniemy] breathes that. I think Coach [Ron] Rivera has breathed that since he got here, I think the defensive and their staff, they breathe that, and the ownership breathes it as well."

McLaurin has come a long way in improving his mental health since his rookie season. There's never been any doubt about what he can be as the Commanders' No. 1 wideout, but after years of self-reflection and contemplation, McLaurin feels like he has a firmer grasp on the type of man he is and can be.

But he also knows that process is a never-ending journey.

"I know there's still work to be done in my personal life as a man," McLaurin said. "I hope to be a husband one day, a father, a great friend, a great teammate and a great leader for this organization."

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