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Stop suppressing your inner strength. The power of positive self talk

Nov 09, 2021

We’re all aware of this voice in our head that commentates on all of our activities for each day. It likes to point out the way that we’re feeling about a certain task which at times may be sunny and pleasant and others may be gloomy and self defeating. 

This is a universal phenomenon commonly referred to as self-talk, or your internal dialogue. 

Self-talk has effects on the little day to day tasks like when to get out of bed, what coffee to drink or what outfit to wear. It also has an effect on larger portions of our day like how we perform in the gym, how effective we are at work, and how we handle our personal relationships. 

These thoughts are extremely powerful and will often times directly impact the course of our day whether they’re the pleasant kind, or in the unfortunate but far more common case, the self defeating kind.

Let's imagine a scenario when we’re about to perform a task (work responsibility, exercise, presentation) and we tell ourselves “I can’t do this. I’m not good enough to do this”. 

Maybe it’s circumstantial. You didn’t get enough sleep, or you haven’t eaten today or it’s just been one of those days. Regardless of why we tell ourselves we can’t do something, the fact is that the thought alone is powerful enough to drive an outcome. And a negative thought will drive a negative outcome. 

So what do we do in these scenarios? What do we do when we’re mentally fatigued, or physically exhausted and don’t think we have what it takes? When the negative self-talk takes over?

One step is to lay the foundation for success. Turn those negative thoughts into positive ones. We all hear that voice in our head telling us we can’t do it, so we just need to recognize when this happens and turn it around. Use positive self-talk to tell yourself you ARE ready for this. You CAN do this. But more than just telling yourself this, you have to believe it. 

But this isn’t some super power. You can’t just say “I'm the best” and expect it to happen. There is some work on your end to physically make the conditions as good as they can be for whatever task is at hand. 

If you’re lifting weights, don’t load the bar with a weight unheard of to you and expect it to fly in your hands. You have to be smart about the way you go about it. Use a manageable weight. Or if you’re running, use ideal conditions for your run. Listen to your favorite song. Get a small snack before you start. Make sure you have time for your workout and it’s not going to be a rush that puts you in a bad mood when you can’t finish on schedule. 

Another way we can set ourselves up is to focus on what is needed of us versus what is not needed of us. Again focus on the positives. As a weightlifter I tend to relate everything to..well weight lifting. But the example proves true to all activities.

If I’m performing a squat, and only think about the things that I shouldn’t be doing during said squat, chances are those things will come to the front of my mind and I will commit some fault during that movement. It’s in our human nature to think like this. 

If I were to tell you NOT to think about a purple zebra. DON'T THINK ABOUT A PURPLE ZEBRA. What’s going to happen? Chances are you’re thinking about a purple zebra. And if you’re still reading a few sentences from now, you’re probably still thinking about a purple zebra. 

The purple zebra is our negative self-talk. As difficult as it may be, we have to push the purple zebra aside and make way for more positive ideas. It’s easy to notice the negatives, but how do you turn them into positives? That’s like turning hot to cold or black to white. They’re opposites, so what can we do?

One method is to come up with some sort of mental or physical cue once you recognize the negative thoughts. You can tell yourself “stop” out loud, you can scream at yourself internally, or pinch yourself on the hand. Whatever will help you to snap out of the negative thought process. Then we can have this internal discussion. Mine usually goes something like this.

Negative - “I’m terrible at running. It’s uncomfortable, I can’t breathe. I want to stop. I’m not good at this.” 

Positive - “I’m still practicing. I’m finding my groove and the more I stick to it, the easier it will be. This is still the learning curve. I got this.”

This shift in focus keeps your mentality in the right atmosphere. It will also keep you coming back for more. If we’re focused on refining our practice and getting better at a task, we’re more likely to stick to it than if we’re convinced that we’re terrible.

It may sound kind of hokey to think this way at first, but with practice I can assure you that it leads to some significant results. Remember that these types of thought processes are not mutually exclusive to the gym. Apply them to other aspects of your life, be it work, home or other hobbies. These types of mental improvements can help us break through plateaus of all kinds. 

Give some of these mental exercises a try. Self-talk is a lot like a muscle. The more you use it the stronger it gets. If you’re constantly using negative self-talk, then your negativity will continue to grow. But snap yourself out of that mindset and think positively. It may not come to you right away but like any other skill, it will get better with practice. You’ll be impressed with its effects once you’ve mastered it. If you’re struggling to flex this muscle and need a little help snapping out of that negative mentality, give us a shout.