What is Self-Talk?
Do you know that inner voice that always seems to be going? It is constantly “telling” you what you should do, what you might do, and reflecting on things you have already done. It evaluates what you do while you’re doing it, providing opinions and suggesting possible ramifications and outcomes. This is one type of inner monologue which psychologists have identified, and labeled as, “self-talk.”
To get a better idea of exactly what self-talk is, psychologist Susan Krauss-Whitbourne likens self talk to the “equivalent of sports announcers commenting on a player’s successes or failures on the playing field.” Unlike athletes that never hear a television or radio sports commentator’s voice, you definitely “hear” what your self-talk is telling you.
Unfortunately, this voice you seem to have no control over can be negative sometimes.
Think about the last time you were in a race. You may have experienced self-talk telling you how slow you were or how you are not good enough to be in the race. What happened? Maybe you started walking; maybe you DNF. Your mind was telling you something and you started believing it.
Your inner dialogue can respond in two different ways.
As it turns out, you can respond with negative and positive self-talk to the same situation. It all depends on how you lead your thoughts. For instance, you are in your race. You see a person in your age group, and you can tell yourself one of two things:
I have the strength in my legs to run past this athlete.
I am weak and tired. I can’t catch them.
If you tell yourself the positive, then YES, you can run past that athlete and possibly get that top age group finish; or, if you listen to that negative, then NO, you won’t pass them because you started listening to that negative self-talk.
Psychologists believe that consistently driving your self-talk in a positive, constructive direction can train your mind to respond that way. At first you will not find yourself able to redirect your inner voice. It will simply blurt out a subconscious response. However, by continually appraising dysfunctional self-talk and turning it around, you create less stress in your life, boost your self-esteem, and feel good about your inner dialogue.
In the sport arena, we deal with a lot of negative talk from other athletes. You deal with enough of that in your own head; step away from that negative juju and start taking care of yourself on the positive level. You will ONLY become a better athlete and a better person inside and out!