How often do you speak about yourself in a negative way? Probably a lot and much of the time without even realising it. I’m guilty of this. Although I don’t talk badly about myself out loud, I will often tell myself that I should have ran faster, eaten better, worked harder or been more organised with my time.
I’m a goal setter and I like to achieve. But I have learnt that negative self talk doesn’t lead to success, in fact it can hinder progress and actually result in failure.
A few years ago I listened to a podcast that stuck with me. In the podcast the host was talking about negative self talk and how much we, especially as women, talk negatively about ourselves in our mind. This got me thinking and, although I’d always thought I was generally a positive person, I realised how often I used negative self talk in just one day. Since then whenever I’ve started using negative self talk, I try and stop myself and turn it around so that I’m more positive about myself.
Doing this has not only helped my wellbeing but also improved my confidence.
It’s not just day-to-day life that negative self talk can have a detrimental impact, but on fitness performance as well.
Many elite athletes will say that before an important race, event or game they will have a positive mindset. In fact, many professionals argue that a strong and positive mental state is an important part to achieving sporting success. For example before taking on the challenge of a sub-two hour marathon Eliud Kipchoge was positive that he was going to achieve the superhuman goal of running 26.2 miles in under two hours. There was no self-doubt and unlikely any negative self-talk before the race.
Swapping negative self talk for a positive mindset isn’t just for elite athletes though.
As a runner if you go into a race telling yourself that you are not good enough, fast enough or fit enough you are likely to not perform well as a result. Instead, if at the start line you tell yourself that you have trained well, eaten right, rested and are fit enough to smash the race, you’re more likely to achieve a good result.
The same can be said if you go into the gym and want to lift a heavier weight. Back when I did Crossfit I regularly had negative self talk. This impacted me every time I went to lift a heavier weight than I was used to – I didn’t believe I was a strong person and, as a result, felt that I would fail to lift the weight before I tried. The only time I was successful at lifting heavier weights was if I didn’t know what the weight on the bar was and often I had no problems lifting a weight that I told myself was impossible.
Negative self talk is natural but it doesn’t need to be. So next time you find yourself telling yourself that you can’t do something or should have been better, try stopping yourself from negative self talk and being a bit more positive about yourself.