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.
Over the last few months I’ve painstakingly and methodically wrote down my training, expertise, research and stories around negative self talk and need to share with anyone who’s struggled with negative self talk. The book is called:
The picture suggests even in old age you can enjoy sports but I wonder of these two ever struggled when they were younger?
When you’re struggling, something needs to change
Change comes with doing something differently and thinking differently
What can we determine as needing to do things differently?
Drawing on my experience I’ve identified a few situations athletes find themselves in including
Losing confidence in ability
Losing a sense of purpose and identity
Cracking under pressure
When I write about creating change I have to acknowledge there are other ways you can get help. Sports psychologists, CBT are two examples.
NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming is a way you can overcome your challenges
What benefits can you experience with NLP? The athletes I’ve worked with told me
My wellbeing is 100% better
I won my first ever MVP
I’ve not had any anxiety since
I’ve never shot the ball this well
Each athlete I’ve worked with is unique and each had their perspective of what was wrong and what needed to change but with specific questioning and listening, the athlete was able to find the answers to the questions they dared not to ask before
I love NLP because there is no one size fits all approach. There is no one strategy that works for all athletes yet the outcomes are often the same – a sense of recognition that things will be OK and they should have done something sooner
It’s almost like they are different people! Imagine knowing you had a button but were scared to press it. But you knew if that button was pressed, your troubles and worries would disappear and your performance would improve
NLP gives you the confidence to press that button
As a former high level athlete and professional coach, I have an insight to the challenges you face and with the training in NLP and emotional intelligence, combined with being an introvert, my listening and observations skills are heightened, meaning I can create the perfect environment for a you to open up and allow me to guide you
No professional athlete deserves to suffer because your lively hood will be at risk in this competitive environment in which you can be let go or left to one side at the drop of a hat, so giving yourself the best chance to succeed is a no-brainer
If you have no idea about NLP and you’re struggling, my suggestion is simple
Reach out to people and find a solution that works for you
Now is the perfect time to consider coaching using NLP
We are coming out of lock down, competitions are starting up and you’ll be ready for your next competition
When comparing mental health and physical health its important to you that you understand the reality for many people in this world so you know what to do and what to say because this hard hitting blog will open your perspectives in new ways.
I’ll put to one side clinical mental and physical health because those issues deserve much more attention so this blog focuses on general mental and physical health.
Let’s look at the similarities
Everyone experiences physical and mental health
Both fluctuate depending on life choices
Both can improve
Both can decline
Both have support organisations offering help
Not everyone will experience negative mental and physical health
Some take both very seriously
Some live a life where both aren’t an issue
Some live a life where both are an issue
Both are the results of experiences and life choices
You can see the results of one
We are quick to judge when we see others. It’s how we are programmed in our unconscious minds to keep the human race alive and so we judge people by their looks to help us connect and realise if that person is worthy of our time and attention.
We are social animals so we have to create judgements so we create a social circle that meets our beliefs and values so we fit in and have a support mechanism around us.
Looks Aren’t Everything
The world is full of people of all shapes and sizes and we are quick to judge their physical health based on what they look like.
We see all different types of body types, colours, shapes, heights and we create a judgment based on our expectations and beliefs of the world that allow us to understand what we see and we make judgements on the type of person they may be without actually speaking with them.
Is it fair we judge others without getting to know them?
We form opinions of them just as they form opinions of us.
Let’s say you see someone across the room at a party and they are overweight. It would be easy to say their health is at risk and assume they struggle with phsycial activity. But once a conversation starts, you learn more about their situation and the initial judgment melts away as you create a new understanding and appreciation for them as a human being.
Hiding Behind The Mask
Physical health is obvious and when we consider sports, we know when an athlete is out of shape.
Their data is poor, their times are poor and by looking at how they move, you can tell where they are at through comparing their data and movement with others. There is no hiding from having poor physical health as an athlete.
But mental health can be hidden behind a select few words “I’m OK coach, I’m just tired”, “I’ll get over it. I only missed a penalty”, “it’s another loss but I’ll put more work in”.
Hiding behind this mask not only sends the wrong message to others, but it questions your self-worth, creating a dangerous mix of incongruence and hiding the truth, meaning others and yourself will continue to behave as though nothing is wrong.
As I mentioned earlier there are many similarities between physical and mental health and deciding to do something about it when things are going wrong is a choice.
There are people out there who don’t value their physical health. They will continue to eat junk food, take no exercise, drink too much and live a life that’s over endulgant, even though they know their health is at risk and accept they will work it out for themselves and they will be ok
In the same breath, there are people who don’t value their mental health. They are overwhelmed, feeling stuck but feel they should work it out for themselves and they will be ok.
There’s a lesson I’ve learned over the years that I want to share with you because as much as we don’t like to think of people suffering on their own and there has to be more done to help, we have to accept some people don’t want help.
A New Perspective
But knowing not everyone wants help, we can provide help for those that need help. We have to push harder to provide cultures and environments where admitting you’re struggling, admitting you’re finding it hard, admitting you’re in a challenging place and you need help, is seen as courageous and normal.
These environments and cultures need to be implemented in professional sports and within organisations and anywhere where there’s human interaction and responsibility.
Empowerment And Self-Worth
We have to encourage individuals to appreciate, the choices they make will impact on their health.
We have to encourage individuals to understand what you do doesn’t define you but rather who you are defines you. A person shouldn’t be defined as a footballer that’s made a mistake. A person shouldn’t be defined as a player who’s no longer good enough. A person should be defined through how they approach a problem or challenge and if needed, offered the right support.
If this blog has allowed you to understand mental health a little better, please comment and share with your network because as you know, you can’t see mental health issues but you can put information in front of a person, allow them to digest it and make a choice.