Have you ever been verbally assaulted by another person? It is likely that you have had insults hurled your way such as: “You stink,” “You are not good enough to make the team,” “You’re slow,” “You choke under pressure” or “You are the worst on the team.” Angry thoughts whirled in your head, “How dare you say that to me. You don’t even know me.” You probably were pissed off and wanted to tell that person to “shut the “F*** up”.
Would you idly stand by while another person personally attacked you? Hell no! You would probably go on the attack and defend yourself at all costs.
If you would not accept such negative statements from another person, then why would you say and accept those negative things to yourself?
If you want to succeed in your sport or, in life for that matter, calling yourself names, putting yourself down, telling yourself that you are not good enough or berating yourself will not move you in the direction of your athletic goals.
You may counter with the argument, “Well, I can’t control the things that pop up in my head.” To some extent that may be true but you are responsible for a large majority of the content in your mind.
“How?” you ask.
1. By your attitude – Your attitude is your slant that you put on the events in your life, no different than a spin doctor. A spin doctor is a political spokesperson employed to give a favorable interpretation of events to the media. By being your own spin doctor, you can put a favorable slant on athletic events that will enhance your next athletic action.
2. By your self-talk – Change your self-talk, change your game. Try this as an exercise… Take a minute to call yourself every bad name you can think of. Afterwards, take notice of how you feel. Were you feeling down, hopeless or anxious? Now, think of all your strengths and give yourself credit for all your successes. What positive emotions did you experience? This exercise proves that you are in control of your self-talk. You can change your self-talk and produce positive, performance-enhancing emotions.
3. By your body language – It may sound hard to believe that your actions can change your self-talk. Your self-talk is how you communicate with yourself but not all communication is verbal. We also talk with ourselves through our body language. If you were to stand with your head up, shoulders back, breathe deep, have a bounce in your step and quicken your pace of how you walk, positive messages will be sent to your brain stating you are prepared and ready for anything.
4. By your actions – Taking the necessary risks to succeed is a ballsy way to confidently move forward even though you may have some doubts. The risks can be small… I am going to hit the weight room three times a week… I am going to work on the mental part of my game by doing imagery three times a week… I am going to push hard the second half of each practice. You efforts do not need to be Herculean. Small steps go a long way towards changing how you talk to yourself.
Stop feeding yourself the lies and negative BS. Give yourself a big dose of SHUT THE “F*** UP when those pesky negative thoughts start spreading in your mind. Defend yourself against that internal bully and discredit that negative BS. If you stay vigilant and challenge negative thoughts, the content of your thoughts will change… and Voila, your athletic performances will improve!