By Brittney Nyrose on October 16, 2020.
I recently came across this Japanese proverb that really resonated with me and what I see quite often in my work with clients.
“Do not speak bad of yourself. For the warrior within hears your words and is lessened by them.”
To me, this is all about our self talk. What you tell yourself becomes your reality. The warrior within is your body. When you speak poorly of yourself, saying things like “I suck,” “I’m never going to be good at this,” “I’m stupid,” over and over again each day, the warrior begins to believe it. We are our toughest critics. Our thinking is quite often full of self-criticism and self-deprecation. Often what we say to ourselves is something we would never say to a friend or teammate, so why are we so mean to ourselves?
People have around 9,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. That seems like a lot, but what’s worse is that upwards of 80% of those thoughts are negative. If you think about it, the majority of our thinking is negative and completely unproductive to our wellbeing – 48,000 negative thoughts per day! That’s 17 million negative thoughts a year. Typically, negative thoughts weigh you down. Can you imagine what 17 million feels like each year?
Here is what can we do to tip the scales and shift our negative thinking to more positive thoughts?
1. Bring awareness to the situation
The more awareness you can bring to the situation, the quicker you will learn to reframe your negativity into a more positive light. Keep a journal or tally on your phone of all the negative things you tell yourself for a day. Try to write them down so you can look back on them later. You can even enlist a trusted friend or family member to help catch you when you start to speak negatively about yourself. This will help bring your attention to how often you do it each day.
2. Catch yourself in your negativity and switch it to positivity
When you catch yourself telling you something negative, stop the sentence, and immediately change it to something more positive. It may also be helpful to have some go-to phrases that really resonate with you if you are having an especially difficult time coming up with something more positive. For example, when I catch myself saying “I’ll never be good at this,” I stop, and say “No! I’m just not good at it right now, but I have the ability and will put in the hard work to get better at it”
3. Show self-compassion
Like I mentioned previously, you wouldn’t speak that poorly about a friend or teammate so why not extend that same compassion toward yourself? Practicing self-compassion can be challenging at first, but the more you work on it, the easier it becomes. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember that everyone makes mistakes and you can’t be good at something you just started to learn. Rather than getting caught up in negative thinking, allow yourself to be OK with the process of learning and growing.
4. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is the art of being thankful for what we have. A daily practice of showing gratitude helps shift our mindsets into a more positive light. With practice and consistency, you will start to notice a move away from your negative thought patterns to more positivity.
I hope these tips can help you reduce your negative self-talk and shift your thinking to more positivity and less self-criticism. This change doesn’t happen overnight, so keep at it. As always, it is important to seek help from a professional if your negative thinking is affecting your life. I’ll leave you with one more quote: “Every negative thought is a down payment on your failure, but every positive thought is an investment on your future.” Remember, just one small positive thought can change everything.
Brittney Nyrose, MSc is a mental performance specialist and consultant for Alberta Sport Development Centre – Southeast. She can be contacted at email@example.com