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Self-Talk

Updated: May 8, 2019

Self-talk happens when a person thinks. The ‘talk’ can be silent, inner talking with oneself, or it can be spoken out loud. Self-talk helps make our perception and beliefs conscious. When you see someone talking to themselves, they do not necessarily have mental illnesses. Self-talk can be instructional or motivation, which can be negative and positive.



Instructional Self-talk

Instructional Self-talk involves statements that are relevant to your task. It helps you get through the task a step at a time, which can help you focus by breaking down the complex tasks into simpler steps and remember them. For example, when shooting a basketball, you active remind yourself to ‘Keep your balance, Eyes on the target, Snap your elbows and follow through’.



Motivational Self-talk

Motivational Self-talk helps you to be motivated with positive motivational statements, such as saying ‘I can do it’. However, motivational self-talk can affect you negatively if done wrongly such that you start telling yourself that ‘you’re no good’, that ‘you can’t do it’. Motivational self-talk has the power to enhance your confidence and efficacy level, to boost your performances. However, if you let your negative controls you, it will reduce your confidence instead. Hence, controlling your thoughts positively is key.



Why do Self-talk?

Self-talk is useful in skill acquisition with instructional self-talk. It helps you remember the steps in tasks and focus, hence increasing the performances too. Self-talk can help with the changing of bad habits by constantly reminding yourself to stop, motivating yourself that you can do it. It helps you to focus your attention on tasks, with changing your mood. Also, it raises and built your self-confidence and self-efficacy.



Self-talk methods

Thought stopping

- Recognize the negative unwanted thoughts and develop a trigger word to cease the undesirable thoughts. The trigger word can be in a form of words or a physical action. For example, when you are about to approach a hurdle in the 400 m hurdle race, instead of thinking ‘I am scared to fall’, get rid of that unwanted thought and think of the trigger word ‘Lean forward’ to help you clear the hurdle.


Changing positive to negative

- Stopping your negative thoughts might not always work. Hence, what can be done is to make a list of negative comments that affects you and develop some positive statements to replace them. It is all about the perspective you see things, do you see the cup as half empty? Or half full.


Countering

- If you strongly believe in the negative thoughts, you will be unable to turn it into positive. Hence, you can counter the thoughts internally against the negative comments. For example, when playing soccer/football, you keep missing your free kicks, and you think to yourself ‘I am bad at kicking free kicks’. Instead of that, counter it with thoughts such as ‘What can I do to improve my free kicks’.


Affirmations

- Affirmations reflects positive statement or thoughts about yourself to help you in the desired outcome. It is a short statement that is realistic, positive and vivid. Through repeating the statements constantly, you are allowing your subconscious mind to internalize the positive thoughts. For instance, tell yourself ‘I am the best at shooting a 3 pointer in basketball’.


Confront Fears

- Talk to yourself about the fears you face. Fear is a factor that holds back the potential of an individual. Fear of failure and risks prevents you from doing things. Go through with yourself step by step, what are you afraid of? It will help you face and confront the fears, which at the end of the day, you will be able to change, or even turn your fears into your strength.



Self-talk contains the ability to enhance your overall confidence level, improving your concentration and sports performance. However, understand that Positive self-talk will help you, negative self-talk can be poison, and detrimental. Turning negative self-talk to positive requires time. Be patient, continue practicing positive self-talk, I promise that you will reap plenty of rewards.



 

Lim, E. 7 Steps to Positive Self Talk | PickTheBrain | Motivation and Self Improvement. Retrieved from https://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/7-steps-to-positive-self-talk/

Optimize performance through positive self-talk | Human Performance Resource Center. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.hprc-online.org/articles/optimize-performance-through-positive-self-talk

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