Effects of Negative Self-Talk
There are two ways you can communicate with yourself. Through images and words. Throughout the day you are constantly communicating to yourself through one of those two means. In fact, studies show that the average person has roughly 6,200 thoughts a day! Now, the more of those words and images you can turn into positive and productive thoughts, the better off you are going to be. I am going to show you how the words you speak to yourself can affect you physically and emotionally, and how you can use that to your advantage.
First, let’s start with an activating situation or “a trigger”. This would be an event that causes nervousness, stress, or anxiety for you before or during your competition. For example, having to shoot a game tying free throw, kick a field goal for the win, being down two strikes at the plate, or getting ready to give a presentation. All of these and more are different situations you may run into that can cause varying emotions. How you perceive these events and speak to yourself can have a massive impact on you physically and emotionally, which will in turn have an impact on the outcome of the event.
If you decide to speak negatively about the situation, it will affect you emotionally in a negative way. It can cause more stress and anxiousness which will cause most likely cause you to perform worse, which in turn will cause more stress and anxiousness and the cycle continues. To change this, you first need to become aware of what you are saying to yourself and what the triggers are causing this stress and negativity. Once you know what you are saying that is negative, immediately stop it in its tracks, and start to replace it with something positive and productive. This can be thought of as reframing your perspective. An example of this could be getting excited for the opportunity for a challenge, rather than worrying about what might go wrong.
Not only will negative thoughts and words effect you emotionally, but they will also have a physical effect on your body as well. When you feel anxious or nervous, your muscles will tense up, your breaths shorten, and you may even begin to shake slightly. If you can reframe your thoughts into positivity and strength you will have the ability to slow down your breathing, play more relaxed, and become more focused in the moment. View difficult situations as a challenge, rather than a threat and you will be able to keep your body more focused and in tune with what you want to accomplish.
One tip that can be helpful is to imagine you are talking to yourself the same way you would talk to your best friend in the same situation. Most likely it would be encouraging, energizing and positive to them. So, to get the most out of your game, speak the same way to yourself!
Your Inner Rival will always find the negative in a situation if you give it a chance. Don’t allow it to take over.