We all talk to ourselves, and when we keep telling ourselves some- thing we eventually begin to believe it. This is such a fundamental truth that psychologists have come up with a clinical term for it: self-talk. The concept has proved particularly useful in the field of sports psychology, and numerous studies have shown time and again that the differences between negative self-talk and positive self-talk have everything to do with how athletes perform.
Negative self-talk can naturally arise when encountering obstacles, as we all know, and professional athletes are no exception to this rule. But learning how to transform these harsh thoughts into self- encouragement and positive self-talk is what makes the best athletes succeed.
In one sports medicine study, Daniel Gould, Kenneth Hodge, Kirsten Peterson, and John Giannini demonstrated how winning coaches prepared their athletes for competition by modeling self- confidence and teaching athletes to convert detrimental self- criticism into empowering self-belief.1 In another important study, Dr. Joan A. Finn showed how positive self-talk reduces anxiety, boosts confidence, and increases performance.2
Thoughts such as ‘‘I’m no good at that,’’ ‘‘I have nothing to offer,’’ ‘‘It’s too hard, I can’t do it,’’ and ‘‘If I try it, I’ll look ridiculous’’ become true when you play them over and over in your head in a nonstop loop. Others pick up on and believe what you project and believe about yourself. To increase your authentic likability and forge successful connections, harnessing positive self-talk is key. And the only one who can do that is you.
The tricky part is that, for some people, this is a hard thing to do. Some people have learned to beat themselves down instead of building themselves up, and this forms such a habit that it gets to the point where they don’t know how to be positive with themselves anymore. It’s okay – as the saying goes, even old dogs can learn new tricks. You have resources available to help you start reclaiming your positivity again.