[Mindset] Changing Your Self Talk
Self talk is funny, it is constant inner dialogue, an unspoken dialogue, that runs through our heads and these can be positive or negative. No matter how positive you are it is so easy for us to get caught in the negative, the cannot’s vs the cans. I preach a lot about positive thinking and positive self talk to my athletes. Honestly, I preach it to myself OFTEN as I have to constantly remind myself to think positively to take the negative thoughts and turn them into positive thoughts on a regular basis. I truly and whole heartily believe in positive self talk, not only does it boost your confidence but it is a great way to develop a mindset that challenges the obstacles you are facing as well as giving you the courage and confidence to stand back up when you fail. The mind is a very powerful feature and is so very often under utilized in our daily lives from a powerful standpoint. Yes we all probably use our minds on a daily basis with our jobs but the likelihood that we harness the power it has to help us be the best version of ourselves is low.
As an athlete and business owner some of my greatest accomplishments have come because of changing the my own thinking from negative thinking into something positive and productive. Most recently we’ve all seen the social media blast going in which we look back on our ten year younger self and for me it was a huge reminder of how changing your self talk can change your life. 10 years ago I was 18-19 years old, sophomore in college, and honestly floundering through life in a constant state of insecurity, uncertainty, and disbelief. My mind was full of negative self talk that I was failing, disappointing my friends and family, not good enough, not smart enough, not fast enough, not pretty enough, not strong enough, etc etc the list could go on and on. Changing my own self talk was a slow process, in fact it took around five out of those ten years to really do it and then another three years to have nailed it and it wasn’t until I hit rock bottom around five years ago that I really realized how changing my own internal beliefs and mindset towards myself could affect my life.
There is no magical way to change your self talk or even increase your confidence you just really have to commit to making the mindset shift. You have to commit to when you feel the negativity come into your mind that you make a shift towards positivity and productivity. Making the mindset shift is no different than choosing to commit to running every day, or training 3 days a week, or wanting to read one book a month you chose to commit to making a change in your mindset. When it comes to positive self talk there is a difference between just saying “I’m awesome” and effective positive self talk. For self talk to be effective the best practices are to focus on it being productive self talk. Yes, the change from something negative about yourself to something positive such as I am awesome you will see a change in your thought process and you probably will improve but it may plateau because those messages will not fully change your self-belief in at an influential level.
6 Tips for Effective Positive Self Talk
Self-talk should be practiced ahead of time (outside of competition). Pick a day a week that you sit down and practice changing your self talk.
While there are best practices, the focus should be less about negative/positive, or good/bad self-talk, and more about what is PRODUCTIVE for athletes in certain situations. [I LOVE THIS]
Individual preferences are okay. Everyone has a different way of changing their self talk and that is ok, as said before there is no magical way to go about it.
Self-talk should be focused on what should be done, rather than what should be avoided.
Positive self-talk doesn’t have to be big, you can change your mindset with small little changes. Finding the joy in what you are doing, and finding the peaks in something even if there are valleys along with it.
It is difficult to turn off self-talk. For most people, self-talk is going to happen, for the good or the bad, regardless of whether you work on it. Knowing that, you may as well make the monologue in your head helpful… and positive!
Positive vs. Productive Self Talk
Don’t get me wrong I fully believe in positive self talk as it really teaches you to believe in yourself. But a lot of positive self talk can be fairly unproductive such as “I’ve got this” or “I can do it”, while these are positive and reinforcing a positive believe in you it is very vague what do you “got” or what is it that you can “do”? Taking these positive thoughts and turning it into a productive thought is where you will see the best versions of yourself come to light. So rather than saying “I can do it” say something like, “I’ve put in hours and hours of strong running throughout my training so I know that I can run xxxx pace because I’ve trained for it”. At this point you have mentally proven to yourself that you can do it because you have already done it, you provided your brain a convincing reason that you can do it because again you’ve already done it.
Practice Makes Perfect
How do you make this mental shift in mindset from negative to positive and then positive to productive? Practice! It is really hard to try to just make the shift in the middle of a race or randomly. You need to practice:.
When making the shift in mindset towards positive self talk the first step to take is recognizing or being aware of your negative self talk and most importantly recognize how that negative talk makes you feel. Sit down for 5-10 minutes with a pen and paper and think about your past performances or past situations in which you know that you engaged in negative self talk, write down what you thought, how you felt because of those thoughts, what the outcome was, and anything else you experienced as a result of the negative self talk. Now that you’ve recognized it, become aware of it, then you can start making a conscious decision to change it.
Take that negative thought and think about how you can make it into a positive thought and similarly you need to think about how that makes you feel. When you are thinking about that positive thought try to come up with a trigger that will help you get there; maybe it is a mantra or a word that helps you trigger it or maybe it is an experience in which you already accomplished something positive, or maybe it is a person that you believe in or believes in you whatever it is use it to help you think positively.
Turn that positive thought into a productive thought, as mentioned previously it is this productive thinking that lets you dive a little bit deeper into the self talk and use it in a way that targets exactly what you are trying to do.
Want a Worksheet to help guide you through changing your self talk? CLICK HERE for a free worksheet
Lastly, cut yourself some slack when making these changes. No different than anything else we do there are going to be ups and downs, there are going to be wins and there are going to be failures it is all a part of the journey. None of us have the ability to be 100% physically, emotionally, and mentally all of the time and that is more than OK!! The difference is rather than letting those failures take control of us use it to learn from it, stand back up, and do it differently next time!
I hope that this helps you find some strength within yourself, and find a new passion for not only whatever event you are tackling but most importantly a passion for yourself. It is this passion, faith, and strength in yourself that you can gain from changing your mindset that brings everything into a new light!