As a human being, you are constantly talking to yourself, having an inner monologue with yourself. It’s called self-talk. Self-talk is an internal dialogue that can affect your confidence and self-esteem. One kind of this is positive self-talk, a personal (mental) conversation with a positive mental attitude towards your life and yourself. This is said to be the optimistic voice in your head – soliloquy that makes you look at the bright side of things.
So why should you immerse in positive self-talk on a consistent basis? Here are several benefits that you can expect from a constructive self-dialogue:
1) It helps boost your confidence.
Do you feel shy in front of a huge audience? Do you have little belief in your talents and skills? Positive self-talk can help you get through this – thus making you feel more confident. Most of the time, negative self-talk can hinder you from performing at your fullest. This gives you second thoughts about your ability to carry out the task. With positive self-talk, you can put your doubts on the wayside – so you can focus on accomplishing your feat with flying colors. And if you think confidence doesn’t really equate to success, think again. Those who are successful at what they do truly believe in themselves and their abilities. In fact, confidence is so important to success that many psychologists believe that it is one of the primary prerequisites to personal and professional success.
2) It introduces optimistic thoughts — that save you from depression.
Depressed people often feel useless, worthless and hopeless. Not only does it take a toll on the mind, it affects the body as well. Depressed people exhibit a variety of physical symptoms, such as sleeplessness, eating problems and lethargy, to name a few. If you suffer from depressive mood, positive self-talk can help you turn the other way around. Optimistic thoughts such as “I can do this” and “The world is a beautiful place” can pull you away from the path that leads to depression.
3) It eliminates stress.
Stress can truly get the best of you, as it affects every bit of your persona. So if you want to escape from the mental and physical burdens of stress, then positive self-talk is something that can help you out. According to the American Heart Association, positive self-talk can help control stress. As a result, it makes you feel calmer and less anxious.
4) It shields your heart.
Stress is one of the many aggravating factors that can lead to cardiovascular diseases. Since positive self-talk can reduce stress, it gradually lowers your risk of suffering from heart problems as well. Supporting this claim is a study conducted by Susanne Pedersen, a researcher from Tillburg University, Netherlands. In her research, results show that those who have positive outlooks in life demonstrated lower risks for mortality – at least in the next five years.
5) It can help you improve your performance in anything you do.
Say that you are very tired and drained, having run several kilometers for a marathon. Just when you think of giving up, positive self-talk can give you the nudge you need in order to go on and finish the race. An essential part of sports psychology, positive self-talk can help athletes reduce their pre-race jitters and performance anxieties, and help them get in the zone. In fact, studies show that continuous positive self-talk can help an athlete enhance his overall performance.
But positive self-talk isn’t only for athletes. It is also just as important for professional and personal success. If you are getting ready for a big presentation or trying to accomplish a personal goal of amassing wealth, positive self-talk will give you the right mindset to do so. While positive self-talk can make you become a better performer, the key to achieving this is to make your internal conversations feasible and possible. Convince yourself with believable goals, instead of seemingly unreachable ones.
True enough, the importance of positive self-talk cannot be denied. With its benefits to the mind and the body, there is no reason why you should not have a daily optimistic dialogue with yourself. You need to have these conversations with yourself. You need to know yourself and master your own your thoughts. If you do so, the world is your oyster.
Positive Self-Talk in Sports Psychology We Can Use In Everyday Life
My last point brings me to an important positive self-talk in the winning athlete.
Sports psychology seems to always be at the forefront of research in peak performance because there’s big money in athletes being able to perform at their peak.
Positive self-talk doesn’t always seem positive at first. Take a look at this video of tennis player Tommy Haas berating himself for example:
Youtube user Mike Miller was gracious enough to translate this self-talk for us:
Too many errors, too many errors… I don’t wanna do this anymore. What am i doing this shit for? For what, for whom? Except for me? Why why why? I can’t do it. I don’t get it. I pay people for nothing. For absolutely nothing. You are a complete idiot, you are. Again not going to the net, nicely done. But you are going to win. You are going to win, come on. You can do it. fight!
At first he is indeed insulting himself. But as you can see from his demeanor, this is just “tough talk” in order to get himself amped up. As you can see in the end, he told himself to fight and that he is going to win. Guess what he did? He ended up winning that match. That is the essence of positive self-talk, to instill a sense of confidence and positivity so that you take action, and win.
Finding Your Personal Mantra
There isn’t much that drains the human mind and body more than athletic competition. You will often find negative self-talk creep in when you are exhausted, fatigued, hurting, and losing. This is where a personal mantra comes in. A mantra is something you consistently say to yourself to get your self-talk to go from negative to positive. It’s something you say to yourself to get yourself back on track. Like the video above, Tommy Haas’ mantra is him telling himself that he is going to win. But a mantra doesn’t just help with athletic performance, it helps with any type of performance, from a presentation to a test.
Here is a video that goes deeper into finding your mantra:
Visualization is another one of sports psychology’s best kept secret. Although there is no replacing the act of showing up and putting in physical practice to hone your skills, mental practice (or visualization) is almost just as important at the upper echelons of sports. That’s what winning athletes do, they visualize themselves winning. This visualization is an important part of instilling a positive image of yourself.
So what is visualization? Visualization is the simple act of visualizing yourself performing an act before you set actually begin. If you are a basketball player, it could be visualizing yourself knocking down 10 three-pointers in an upcoming game, or hoisting the championship trophy up after winning the last game of the season. If you are a marathon runner, you could be visualizing yourself keeping pace with the pacer at mile 20.
But again, we can take this sports psychology technique and apply to non-athletic scenarios. For instance, if you are preparing for a speech, you can visualize yourself confidently giving the speech without stuttering or tripping over your words, and visualize the crowd laughing hysterically at your well-timed jokes. If you are preparing to burn the midnight oil to finish a project (not recommended), then you can visualize yourself still working on the project hard when you are dead tired.
Visualization is a form of positive self-talk because you are instilling positive images in your head.
For visualization to be effective, it needs to be specific. If a baseball player is trying to correct his swing so he can hit the fastball harder, he needs to visualize every aspect of his swing, from the feet, to the hips, to the wrists. The mechanics of the swing needs to be visualized along with the end result (hitting the fastball for a base hit). If a kickboxer is trying to learn how to counter a jab with a front kick, the visualization needs to visualize the opponent’s fully body movements along with his own. The more specific the imagery, the better. This goes any type of visualization, not just sports.
Visualization serves as an important tool to prepare for important events and is definitely a tool of positive self-talk you should employ in your life.