Whether you’re aware of it or not, you have a constant dialogue going on in your head. This ongoing self-talk includes the positive and productive things you tell yourself throughout the day. But it also includes the negative and more harmful thoughts that tend to sneak into the conversation.
What we say to ourselves, both out loud and inside our heads, affects our mindset, mood and performance. So if you engage in negative self-talk, it will affect your workouts, goals and results.
What is Negative Self-Talk?
Negative self-talk is that inner critic chattering away in your brain. This negative voice never has anything helpful to say and will only ever see the glass as half empty. When you think about chasing a goal, negative self-talk will chime in and provide all the reasons why it’ll never happen. Negative self-talk pulls you down and points out all of your weaknesses, completely disregarding your strengths. As a result, negative self-talk can prevent you from experiencing success.
The Effect on Your Training
When it comes to your training and performance in the gym, negative self-talk leads to negative outcomes. It keeps you focused on the past, your shortcomings and all the ways you’ve messed up or missed the mark.
Once you try for a PR and fail, negative self-talk will remind you of that exact moment as often as possible. If you haven’t figured out a skill, like double unders, negative self-talk will set you up for a bad workout as soon as you see double unders on the whiteboard. If you go out too hard in a workout and run out of gas by the end, negative self-talk will beat you about your failure to execute perfectly.
As you might gather, the effect of negative self-talk is strong. So strong that your mind can talk you out of even attempting the smallest of improvements before you even pick up a barbell. But don’t worry because there is an antidote to all this gloom and doom. And it’s positive self-talk.
How to Encourage Positive Self-Talk
If you hear the words “positive self-talk,” the first thing that pops into your mind might be a motivational speaker marching around a stage with a microphone. And there is a little bit of truth to this image. Excitement, motivation and improvement fuel positive self-talk. It’s the voice that reminds you of all the skills and strengths you have (or will have in the future).
So how do you encourage this positive voice to show up more often? Well, it takes a little bit of work, but it’s possible to quiet the negative chatter and replace it with something much more productive. Here are a few tips on how to encourage positive self-talk:
1. Pay attention to your thoughts.
The first step is to start paying attention to how you talk to yourself. As you walk through the doors of the gym, look at the WOD on the whiteboard, warm-up, work out and cool down, what are you saying to yourself? Are your thoughts preparing you for a good day of training? Or have you already counted yourself out? If you find that most of your thoughts are critical, that’s okay! The goal at first is to notice and listen.
2. Build your awareness.
Once you start noticing when you engage in negative self-talk, the next step is to examine these thoughts more closely and look for patterns. What happens to set off a critical conversation in your head? Is it certain movements? A specific day of the week? And, what happens as a result? If you keep a workout log, take some notes about your thoughts.
3. Encourage positive self-talk.
Once you are aware of when your negative self-talk shows up, it’s time to get to work on replacing those thoughts with a more positive voice. Effective positive self-talk is purposeful. So while telling yourself, “Good job! You’re doing great!” is better than, “I’m so slow. I can’t lift this.” it doesn’t really have a purpose or direction. Instead, try using phrases that focus on your movements and the execution of a WOD. Like:
- Nice, steady pace.
- Chest up, core tight.
- Knees out, elbows high.
- Keep breathing.
When the voice in your head strikes up a conversation, remind yourself of all the things you’re doing right. Cultivate a positive inner dialogue and get your mind on board with what your body is capable of achieving.
To learn more about Rhapsody Fitness in Charleston and our range of programs, get in touch with Team Rhapsody today.