As you may or may not know, today is World Mental Health Day. In a follow up to yesterday’s post on sports psychology I wanted to quickly discuss a psychological strategy that I have been using on a daily basis to improve both my sports performance and overall happiness/ effectiveness in life.
On a daily basis (according to various sources), it is estimated that the average person has between 40,000-70,000 thoughts every day. Between 70-80% of these are negative thoughts. We are always told to try and avoid negative people and situations, but what about the constant negativity we pollute our own minds with?!
As a college athlete, within the past year I was able to diagnose my largest issue as a lack of self-confidence due to negative, self-defeating thoughts. At first (like many others), I just chalked it up as, “this is just how I am, can’t change how I think, better just work harder physically”. While the increased physical strength did help with performance, my biggest issue still remained.
It was not until I talked with my coach about sports psychology that my eyes opened to a very important, yet overlooked concept. Your brain can and should be trained on a daily basis in a fashion very similar to any muscle group. No, I’m not saying go lift stuff with your head in hopes that your mind will literally get physically stronger. It is a matter of looking into techniques and drills that can help alter your habitual thinking patterns in a way that will begin to positively influence your mind.
The technique I will discuss today (more will come in subsequent posts) is that of daily positive self-talk. To explain how to apply this concept, I will walk you through how I worked it into my daily routine.
- First, I came up with 10 self-affirming statements that I felt were true about myself and that I wanted to instill myself to believe. A few examples: I am in control, I am intelligent, I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, etc.
- Next, I took the time to review them multiple times a day via flashcards.
- Once memorized, I implement them into my daily routine. Upon waking up to brush my teeth in the morning, I stand in the mirror and run through all ten affirmations, 3-5 times, saying each one aloud while looking myself in the eye. (It may seem silly at first, but it’s time to move away from negative thoughts).
- Throughout the day, anytime I catch myself having a negative thought that conflicts with my affirmations, I take the time to take a deep breath to clear my mind, then repeat the affirmations once again.
- Lastly, brushing my teeth before bed, I run through the affirmations once more to ensure ending the day with strong positive thoughts that I resonate with.
It is not something that causes an immediate change in your thought patterns. Just like working out, it will take time and habitual work to make a difference, but I assure you that it will result in a heightened sense of self-confidence.