by Sloan Sheridan-Williams
We all know what our inner critic sounds like, the little voice in your head which has a direct line to your negative thoughts and can be powerful enough to take away our self confidence in an instant.
Think what it would be like if you could shift your focus and use this voice for good. If you could turn that self-talk into something positive and inspirational. Think of the possibilities that may present themselves to you.
Don’t be thrown off balance from the things in your life you love or cherish. You have the power to decide the level of positivity or negativity in your life and as such you have control over how you feel in any given moment.
What is Positive Self-Talk?
Negative self-talk can be triggered by old patterns of behaviour, unhelpful thoughts and low levels of self-worth. It exists as thoughts and vocabulary which embody a physical and mental resignation to being powerless and defeated. Negative self-talk reinforces a falsely held belief that things will not get better and as such these perceptions are unhelpful and damaging. This kind of self-talk impacts not just your sports performance but also has an unhelpful effect on how you do at work, in relationships and life in general.
Positive self-talk focuses on thoughts and language which inspire and motivate you to push forward and achieve the goals you have set yourself. For positive self-talk to work it must be realistic but still optimistic. The language you use is very important as the brain subconsciously ignores the word “not” so it is not helpful to say that “I am not a loser” as the brain will only focus on “I am a loser”. Therefore you have to use positive language and powerful affirmations and intentions to get the best out of this technique and achieve the results you desire.
Things to avoid
Negativity comes from looking at the past and comparing life with that of others. Perceived inability, perceived failure or your perception of others at the top of their league only serve to chip away at your determination to succeed and with the difference between success and failure only being a small deviation from winner mentality it is clear that if you banish negativity you can raise your game no matter what arena you are performing in, be it sports, work or relationships.
In the same way that you would not drive a car by only looking in the rear view mirror, it is crucial that you continue to move forward if you want to achieve your goals. Many experts including life coaches like myself believe that progression, living in the moment and constantly looking ahead to the future are the best ways to live a successful existence. Negative self-talk strips that away and creates an environment that is severely challenging.
How positive self-talk can help
Positive self-talk can keep you focused and relaxed, which prepares you to take on anything life throws at you. Mind over matter really does exist and can happen if your intentions are strong enough. By using positive self-talk you can stand up to your negative triggers and take control back in your life. Paralympic athletes like silver medallist Rik Waddon are a wonderful inspiration to those of us who are looking for an example of how positive self-talk and determination can be powerful enough to surpass the things that hold us back, be they mental, emotional and physical.
Positive self-talk in action
All fears except the fear of loud noises and falling are learned. So just as easily as you have created a fear you can uncreate it. This will impact on your confidence and by practising positive self-talk you will become emotional fitter and mentally tougher every day resulting in better performance in sport and in life. The best way to do this is to replace every negative message that arises with a powerful positive message that is realistic but effective. It is not enough just to say the words, you must also change your physiology to make the positive self-talk powerful.
Affirmations are often used as a tool to promote positive talk, however standing gritting your teeth and repeatedly saying ‘I am happy’ is not going to instil the required emotion in you. Emotions are powerful tools that are extremely valuable in helping compound the message you are feeding to your brain. To make positive self-talk work for you embrace the emotion you are trying to create and pair that with your body language and posture.
If you want to feel like a winner, hold your head high, put your shoulders back, change your breathing rate and tell yourself that each and every day you are moving closer and closer to your goals and enjoying every minute. Stand tall, shout it out, jump about and tell yourself you are performing at your best and are going to keep improving. Feel the positivity in your body as well as your voice. The change will be immediate and the results will speak for themselves
About the author: Sloan Sheridan-Williams is a celebrity life coach and sports performance coach who has previously featured in The Times, HELLO!, MailOnline, Marie Claire, Men's Health, and OK! She also has a weekly blog on The Huffington Post and can be followed on Twitter (@sloansw_london).