When I finished reading the article ` Talking to yourself isn’t weird, it helps you to perform better, that appeared in Times trends [TOI] by Rhian Lubin on 06/05/17 – my thoughts went back to my own playing days: As a batsman I had this tendency of misjudging the ball and got out playing wrong shots. To correct this, I used to tell myself before every ball- ` watch the ball – play to the merit of the ball. When this became a habit, I became more judicious and thereafter- more successful.
Human beings, with very little exception, have this habit of talking to themselves. Earlier, when we noticed a person on the street speaking to the self: we used to call him `insane. Within sanity: talking to oneself now, is regarded by science as smart’ and even beneficial. Psychologists have come out saying that talking to oneself is a form of intelligence. Smart people are known to do a lot of self-talking: it is reported even Albert Einstein did it.
There is a two way communications happening all the time inside: between our good self and that little fella inside our head. It can happen in two ways: talking to that voice silently or talking out loud. And this inner dialog is called- SELF TALK. You may have noticed when a Tennis match is in progress the player indulges in a lot of self-talk: if it is a singles match the player is not allowed to talk to anyone, even his coach [except himself- hee, hee]. Players abuse themselves loudly – `you fool how could you miss such an easy forehand, you are a loser, you stink, you are a choker, you are useless, I am no good etc or the players can swear under the breath silently. When a player gets angry, anxious, nervous and afraid, the negative thoughts that follows leads to physiological changes in the body-that can be detrimental to performance. When thoughts are positive they enhance performance but when they are contrary they cause negative emotions to debilitate performance.
What we say constantly to our inner voice, whether it is complimentary or contradictory – it is accepted sincerely by our sub-conscious mind and that is what we become over longer periods of time. So, we have to be very careful with our self-talk.
Shad Helmstetter, PHD writes in his book what to say when you talk to yourself– ` You will become what you think about most, your success or failure in anything large or small will depend on your programming, that is – what you say to yourself and what you hear from others.’
When faced by pressure of competition self- statements made out of desperation like- `I must win this match, I mustn’t lose to this player, I have to win otherwise what will people say- adds more pressure and anxiety to the situation that sends the performance in to a down spiral. Negative self-talk, like- ` I don’t want to choke or `I am not mentally weak or `I am not a loser or `I don’t want to lose to that player- will be accepted literally by the sub-conscious and the results will be in accordance with it. Instead these statements should be converted in to positive statements like- I want to be relaxed and confident or I am mentally strong or I am a winner or I can win against this player.
Self – talk can also be in the form of Cue words like- strong, easy, focus, calm, relax, fight, I can etc- urging the mind-body to follow a certain pattern in that instant.
Positive Self- talk can also be used in the form of affirmations like- ‘I am a winner’ or ‘I am proud of myself and my abilities’ or ‘I play well under pressure’, ‘I love myself’ or ‘I am always confident’.
The everyday motivational self-talk must be. – EVERYDAY IN EVERYWAY, I AM GETTING BETTER AND BETTER.
M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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