There are a whole host of psychological skills that we can have in our mental toolkit, but some of the most fundamental are our cognitive skills i.e. our thinking abilities. One of which is Self-Talk. Mastering this skill allows us to take charge of our own thoughts, banish doubt and manage our thinking in the moment. When we manage our own thinking, it allows doubts, questions or anxieties to take a back seat, thus making us have increased capacity; mentally, emotionally and physically.
So how do we manage our thoughts in an effective and productive fashion, so we are ready to give it our all when we need to? Here are my 10 tips to practice:
Hear your internal dialogue. Start to pay more attention to what you actually say to and about yourself. We all do it, just sometimes we don’t realize. Plug in and just notice.
Only accept helpful thoughts. These are the thoughts that make a positive difference, that allow you to push through your limits, that tell yourself you are ready to go, even when your body doesn’t really feel like it.
Banish unhelpful, limiting or down right mean thoughts. Let them go! They are hurtful, weaken you and interfere with your functioning. They will slow you down, make you second-guess yourself and negatively impact your mood.
Encourage yourself like you would a best friend. You deserve to talk to yourself in the same manner you would speak to someone you care about. Just like support from others can make us perform better, support from ourselves allows us to perform at our best.
Be specific. Use “I” or “You” statements or refer to yourself by name. And if you need to give yourself a kick in the butt to get motivated, do so with compassion.
Even if you don’t fully believe it, say positives anyway. Saying, “I can do this” repeatedly, will allow this idea to stick in your mind and therefore change your belief over time. Changing your belief changes your reality and ultimately your actions and performance.
Look for concrete evidence. Tell yourself what you have done in the past, what you have accomplished, and that this next step is doable. “If I can do that, then I can do this”.
Stay in the moment – no need to be thinking of the finish line when you are only half way through the race. It will only seem further and further away. Target your thoughts on staying in the moment and noticing your immediate surroundings.
Accept your thoughts as being temporary, they come and then they go. They do not need to define you. If a negative, defeatist thought does sneak in, despite your best intentions, just notice it, accept it as merely a thought and not the absolute truth and pay attention to it leaving your mind.
Encourage yourself to think in symbol or metaphor. Use your imagination to visualize your thoughts coming into your mind and then leaving again. For example; imagine your thoughts as groceries on a conveyor belt, they come and then they get bagged at the end!
So maximize your performance or functioning, take charge of your thoughts, put some energy into making your thoughts more positive, and accept optimistic, helpful and encouraging dialogue within yourself.
By Susan Cockle