What is self-talk?
Self-talk refers to your inner-dialogue. Oftentimes your inner voice reflects your internal biases and judgements. Therefore self-talk is something we do throughout the day.
This could be planning your day mentally, reminding yourself of things that need your attention or observations.
Self-talk doesn’t always reflect your true feelings or opinions, but learned biases, passed down by your parents. Or a reflection of things you are constantly hearing.
The 3 types of self-talk
There are 3 common types of self-talk; neutral, positive and negative.
These are general observations you make throughout the day. Like recognising the cold or a smell. Basically these thoughts have neither positive or negative connotations.
These are thoughts that make us feel good about ourselves and our environment. It is focused on treating yourself with kindness and compassion.
They can help us mitigate the effects of stress and anxiety and fend off feelings of depression. Positive self-talk greatly improves your quality of life. For example you might say “You’ve done well today”, or “that didn’t go to plan but what can you do differently next time?”
It can take many forms and can sound like the musings of your inner-critic. Therefore it limits your ability to believe in yourself and reach your potential.
Moreover, it diminishes your ability to make positive changes and lowers your confidence. With lower confidence, it can have harmful effects on your mental health and increase feelings of stress, anxiety and lead to depression.
Negative self-talk can also alter your perception of reality, making you think others are out to get you or even hold grudges against you, due to your own preconceived notions.
The effect on athletes
As one of my clients said:
“I’ve tried sports psychologists, read over 15 self-improvement books, I’m constantly trying to understand my mind and the minds of those that are successful, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned from working with Mike is that my biggest asset is myself and I can tap into that without any special tactics or interventions when I let go of the habits and social constructs I’ve aligned myself with. My wellbeing is 100% better”
Through recognising his biggest asset is himself, he took back control of his inner dialogue and created change in a way that worked for him.
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