Your Inner Voice
Each of us has an inner voice, a type of silent speech that accompanies virtually everything we do. This inner voice or “self-talk” as it is often referred to, is something that can be useful for us in terms of helping to build confidence, motivation, and or cue us into instrumental aspects of a task. However, it can also work against us, in some cases lowering our degree of confidence or motivation. One way to facilitate growth and increase performance is to become more conscious of the type of self-talk, either positive or negative, that you are engaging in (if you are curious, try this: Put 100 paperclips or something similar in your left pocket. Throughout the day, every time you have a negative thought, move one over to your right pocket. At the end of the day, count the number in the right pocket. Do this for three days and then take the average. This will give you an indication of your degree of negative self-talk).
If you are already using positive self-talk, such as “I got this” or “I can do this”, then you’d want to continue to do so, and perhaps even increase the frequency of it when you are faced with a challenging situation or perhaps are struggling to perform. Unfortunately, it is often when we are struggling or not performing well, that we default into using negative self-talk, such as “I stink” or “I will never be able to do this”, which can be detrimental to performance.
How Self-Talk Increases Performance
As mentioned, the first step is to increase your awareness of the type of self-talk you typically engage in. Once you’ve done that, try using positive self-talk to help you increase your performance. For example, you could use your self-talk to cue you into what you want to have happen. You could use it to remind yourself of proper form or technique. Positive self-talk can be used to increase motivation or to help stick with a challenging task. Better yet, positive self-talk could be used to remind yourself of past performances when you were successful or overcame adversity as a way to boost your confidence.
Each of us has an inner voice. However, how many of us are actually using it to help us grow and reach new heights? Next time you walk into practice or a competition, a class, your office, the boardroom, or stage for that matter, think about what you will say to yourself to put yourself in the best possible situation for success.