Positive Self Talk: Have You Got It?
Sometimes we hit a home run. Other times we strike out.
Have you ever noticed that some athletes seem to fade when they make mistakes. Others, however, find the will to win, no matter how many mistakes they’ve made.
I recently watched Maria Sharapova defeat Marion Bartoli.
Maria lost the first set 3-6.
However, her sheer will and determination came through in the next two sets.
After every point she won, she would pump her fist and yell in celebration.
Then, before the next serve, she turned her back on her opponent and had a conversation with herself. I don’t know what she told herself, but she literally overwhelmed her opponent over the next six games.
12 of Maria’s matches this season have gone into a third set, and she has remarkably won all 12 of them.
“It’s a great statistic,” Sharapova said. ”It shows that I enjoy the battle, no matter what the score is. The third set is the last set out there, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t put everything out there. That’s kind of how I treat those situations.”
Do You Want To Win in the Game of Life? Here’s How
Dr. Voight, sports psychologist for the championship University of Southern California Women’s Volleyball team explains how positive self talk helps us win.
Here’s what William James, Harvard psychologist, had to say:
“He who would be useful, strong, and happy must cease to be a passive receptacle for the negative, beggarly, and impure streams of thought; and as a wise householder commands his servants and invites his guests, so must he learn to command his desires and to say, with authority, what thoughts he shall admit into the mansion of his soul.”
What do you say to yourself? How do you handle tough situations?
Write it down! When you’re feeling particularly upset, disgusted, ashamed, or bummed out, capture it on paper.
- What was the situation?
- What feelings were you experiencing? (rate the intensity from 1-100)
- What were you saying about the situation?
- Now: what can you say to help yourself cope more productively?
Catch Your Thinking Errors
Thinking errors, or cognitive distortions, make every situation seem worse than it is.
I used to dispute this. After all, if a situation stinks, it really stinks. But our thinking errors make real situations worse.
For example, if Maria Sharapova missed a shot, she could tell herself, “I’m an idiot. I’m always doing that. What was I thinking?” Will that statement increase or decrease her confidence? How true is that statement? You be the judge.
I’m not going to list all the cognitive distortions here, but Psych Central’s list of 15 Common Cognitive Distortions should help you out.
Memorize these distortions. Then, when you’re writing down situations that upset you, catch your cognitive distortions and challenge them.
Observe Without Judgement
Once you’ve mastered awareness of your self-talk, don’t beat yourself up for having the thoughts!
It’s normal for many of us who have a pessimistic streak to think negative thoughts.
Here’s a helpful exercise I learned at a professional workshop.
When you’re particularly down or discouraged, sit in a comfortable chair, take some deep breaths, and imagine yourself in a beautiful meadow looking up at puffy clouds going by.
The clouds are your thoughts.
Notice them going through your mind. Don’t judge them. Practice compassion.
Then you can choose to change those thoughts into more constructive ones.
Practice Healthy Affirmations
Writing as a Christian, I believe that the Bible is the most powerful weapon against self-defeating attitudes and thoughts.
Rhonda Jones struggled with depression for years. When she began meditating upon Scripture, she started healing from emotional wounds.
She designed a Christian meditation audio program, Eliminating Stress and Toxic Emotions (yes, this is an affiliate link I believe in), to help thousands of others change their attitudes and thinking Biblically.
As I have started memorizing Scripture, I’ve found that specific Bible verses become my positive affirmations. Scripture Typer, a free program, has helped me overcome my mental resistance to memorizing. And it’s fun!
Here’s an excellent affirmation by Zig Ziglar, well-known author and motivational speaker.
How is positive self talk helping you? How are you going to apply these truths this week?
photo credit: alphababy