Is Your Self-Talk Helpful or Hurtful? 

COPYRIGHT 1999, All Rights Reserved
by Karlene (Sugarman) Pick, M.A., Mental Training Consultant and Author
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"It’s not what you think you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not."
Take a minute and think about all the dialogue that goes on in your head while you are playing. Does this thinking help you perform efficiently and productively?
Does this thinking give you added confidence? Is this thinking in your own best interest? I think you’ll be very surprised at the answers. People may or may not be products of their environment, but they are products of their thoughts (Bennett & Pravitz, 1982). What you think becomes your reality.

Many times, you don’t need a competitor or opposing team to beat you. You can do that all on your own by saying negative things to yourself while you are performing or playing a game. You can either be your own best friend or your own worst enemy - the choice is yours. It is very basic - positive self-talk will help your performance, negative self-talk will worsen it. Positive self- talk helps you to develop secure attitudes toward your performance and validates your capabilities. Self-defeating thoughts full of emotion just perpetuate your fears and doubts. Fear, anxiety and doubt are destructive to your mental well-being. Negative self-talk is just setting yourself up for misery. You need to learn to control your emotions or they will control you.

Positive Affirmation Statements Positive affirmation statements are short statements designed to enhance self-image, help you achieve a secure mental attitude and increase confidence. Take, for example, Muhammad Ali’s affirmation "I am the greatest." Other examples are:
"I live for the present."
"I am relaxed."
"I believe in my abilities."

Effective affirmations are clear, realistic, personal, believable and in the present tense. They will also aid you in achieving your goals. Changing your self-talk is going to play an enormous role in increasing your chance for successful performances on a more consistent basis. William Shakespeare said, "Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so." The all important first step in this process is monitoring your own thoughts; the next step is controlling them. If you’re able to control your thoughts, you can accomplish more than you were aware of - the task is a hard one, but more than worth the effort. It’s important to use repetition with your affirmation statements.

Believe wholeheartedly in the affirmations that you are telling yourself. The beliefs we hold were learned and can be unlearned if necessary. Believe what you say, even if it is not true at the moment - when you were "learning" all the limiting beliefs they were also not true (Porter & Foster). "The more positive you think, the more positive results you can expect. That has always been my philosophy and I live with that philosophy," says Bob Quinn, Ex-General Manager, NY Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, SF Giants. 

"The one thing over which you have absolute control is your thoughts. It is this that puts you in a position to control your own destiny." Paul G. Thomas