Practicing Positive Self-Talk to Improve your Edge
In boxing, the mental preparation can affect your performance as much as physical training can. It is easy for negativity and doubt to get the better of us when we feel nervous and pressured. Taking a few simple measures to develop our positive self-talk can be the key to overcoming our nerves and reaching our best performance.
Positive Vs. Negative Self-Talk: What They Are and Why We Need To Recognize Them
During your training, you are sure to experience many difficulties. When we get disappointed, it is easy to start bashing ourselves with harsh, negative criticism. Statements like “I’m just not strong or talented enough” or “I will never be able to do this” creep into our minds during these frustrating moments. This is what we call negative self-talk, and it is destructive!
To keep us motivated and confident. We need positive self-talk. For example, instead of the negative self-talk statement, “I’m just not strong or talented enough,” we should say, “I am a work-in-progress, and I am getting stronger every day.”
Positive self-talk will not just make you feel better about yourself than negative self-talk, but it can greatly improve your performance too.
Other benefits of positive self-talk include:
- An increase in confidence.
- A decrease in performance anxiety.
- Motivation to train harder.
- A more supportive attitude to those around you.
- Better response to constructive criticism from your coaches.
Imposter Syndrome and How It Can Affect Self-Talk
Sometimes we hold ourselves back from reaching our potential because we are scared of failure. Sometimes, it is because we feel we do not deserve success and we feel like a fraud when we succeed. This feeling is what the experts call imposter syndrome and it is quite common.
A whopping 70% of people feel this way at some point in their lives. This belief can hold us back from pursuing success in all forms and athletic achievement is no different.
Experiencing imposter syndrome can lead to some very negative self-talk, so it is important to be aware of it and to do some soul-searching to figure out if you may be experiencing it whenever you are harsh with yourself.
The good news is that consistent, conscious effort can overcome both negative self-talk and imposter syndrome.
What We Can Do To Develop Positive Self-Talk
Negative self-talk is sometimes just another bad habit and, like most bad habits, can be broken and replaced by a better one. Here are a few actionable steps to help you overcome negative self-talk and instill positive self-talk over time.
1. Learn To Distinguish Between Negative Self-Talk And Constructive Criticism
There is nothing wrong with a bit of constructive self-criticism. This is how we improve. Positive Self-talk is not about lying to yourself about your performance or level of skill. However, there is a huge difference between constructive criticism and negative self-talk.
Constructive criticism addresses the issue at hand, suggests constructive ways to overcome it without the use of shame, while negative self-talk merely bashes and shames you on a personal level, often without helpful suggestions.
Negative Self-Talk: “That punch was pathetic, I look like an idiot doing that! I’m hopeless.”
Constructive Criticism: “I may need to go back to basics and work a bit harder on my form. Then I'll master it in no time!”
Once you can tell the difference, you can start making sure to replace one with the other.
2. Repetition and Practice
Just like our bodies rely on lots of practice and drills to develop muscle memory, our minds need repetition and constant reminders to entrench positive self-talk habits.
A simple way we can do this is by making a list of all the negative things you say to yourself on a regular basis and then coming up with a more positive alternative. Then take a few minutes every day to go through this list and repeat these positive mantras a few times. Memorize them, so that the next time you find yourself engaging in this negative self-talk, you will immediately correct yourself and replace the negative dialogue with the positive alternative.
3. External Support-Build Your Tribe
Getting lots of encouragement from others can reinforce our positive self-talk. It is reassuring when others can point out the good in our progress, even when we cannot see it ourselves.This is why it is great to have a strong, positive tribe of other boxing or fitness enthusiasts. You and your tribe will motivate each other and provide each other with positive, constructive criticism. Your tribe can hold each other accountable for any negativity you express and help you to snap out of it quickly.
4. Avoid and Ignore Negative People
Unfortunately, the negative people who may surround you can be just as destructive as your tribe may be uplifting. They can damage our confidence over time with mean and comments.
It is important to identify the naysayers and make a conscious effort to avoid their company or negative talk as much as you can. Better yet, don’t be afraid to confront negativity with simple phrases like: “I do not appreciate that negativity.” You will be amazed at the response. If it does not work, just move on and avoid them altogether.
5. Writing Exercises and Journaling
Journaling can be therapeutic and a helpful tool for self-motivation. By writing down all our goals, our dreams, and our fears, we are kept motivated and positive. A journal can also be used to monitor patterns of negative self-talk.
We suggest that you keep a journal for a week to a month, writing down every incidence of negative self-talk throughout the day and take note of what may have triggered it such as fatigue, negative comments from others, underperformance or comparing yourself to others. You may notice patterns emerging. Once you understand what may trigger you, you can avoid or better prepare for these situations.
6. Soul-Searching and Professional Help
Sometimes our negative self-talk can stem from deep-rooted issues, such as low self-esteem and emotional trauma. It can be beneficial to take some time to explore these causes. If you feel the issues are more profound than what’s “normal” consider investing in group support or even professional therapy to get the help you need.
Remember, we are all just a “work-in-progress” in every way. We at Gloveworx are about self-improvement and life-improvement through positivity, hard work, and persistence. If that sounds like you, you’re more than welcome to come to a training session and join our tribe!