Positive Self Talk

The last blog talked about mindset. One of the strategies I shared with you to shift your mindset was through positive self talk, so now, we are going to dig a little deeper into that.

What is “self talk?” It is quite literally what you tell yourself; you know, the thoughts in your head. If you’re anything like me, these thoughts go about a mile a minute. I never realized the importance of self talk until I started working as a personal trainer.

As I coached more and more sessions, I could begin to tell exactly what they were saying to themselves just by their body language and attitude. All too often, I see people shaking their head “no” before getting on the Assault Bike, or before trying a new movement. Can you guess what happens next? It doesn’t start, or end, pretty.

Sometimes we practice negative self talk so much that it starts to become actual talk. When you get to the point of verbalizing all of the negative things you believe about yourself, it’s time for change.

I had started to recognize others negativity when I started training; however, I hadn’t recognized my own yet. That is until Blake took me to Humble Hill. Blake and I had run a Spartan race together, 5 miles of nothing but mud (I was waist deep, losing my shoes) and during this adventure I realized that I was not as fit as I thought was. I told Blake I wanted to get better. So he decided hill sprints were our first stop on my new journey of getting fitter. Incase you’ve never read any blog I’ve written, or met me in real life, I will inform you that I strongly dislike running.

So, we get to this hill and Blake takes off at a full sprint and doesn’t stop until he gets to the top. I take off after him….I am maybe halfway up this hill and my legs turn to cement. I have never, ever felt this burning sensation before. I could NOT get my legs to move and my lungs felt like they were ripping through my chest. It brought me to the ground on all fours…

Blake comes to find me and I am in full-blown panic mode. Crying. Repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe, my legs won’t move.” He talks me down and actually made me finish going up the hill, then return to the bottom and walk up it again. Cue the negative self talk…

“I suck…”

“I can’t even run up this hill.”

“I am so out of shape!”

Fast forward a couple years later, after a whole course designated solely to mental toughness and lot’s of podcasts about mindset, I can proudly make it up Humble Hill. I won’t say “with no problem” because I still get that cement feeling in my legs, my glutes cramp, and my lungs still feel like they are on fire.

This past summer we took our crew that ran the Rugged Red with us out to train at the hill. This time I found myself in a very different position. At the bottom I was excited. I told everyone, “Right when you think you’ve reached the hardest part it plateaus for a second, then it inclines again, and that’s when you have to push! You have to tell yourself all the way up that you are going to do it, because if for one second you think about stopping, you will.” Everyone took off up the hill, and I found myself passing people. Me….the girl who hates running, who had a full blown meltdown at this very place, passing people while sprinting up this hill!

Needless to say, I am now a firm believer in positive self talk. My biggest tip for you when you start to practice positive self talk is to make sure you aren’t telling yourself a lie. Don’t tell yourself something like “this is going to be easy” or “this will be fun” if in fact you know it won’t be. Every training run we had over the summer I would pick a “mantra” to repeat to internally to myself and even out loud to the group I was running with. Our favorite one was “work harder” (we even got this mantra on a headband we wore during our race)  – no matter how much it hurt, we would remind ourselves to work harder. My other favorite is “pain is where the growth happens.” I would tell myself “You knew this would be hard, you knew this would hurt. Pain is where the growth happens.” Picking mantras like this ahead of time will help you once that pain starts creeping in, once you’re hurting and it would be easy to quit. If you have this in your back pocket ready to go, you have a better chance of pushing through.

The way you talk to yourself has a direct impact on your mood. If you continue to talk negatively to yourself, you will do lasting damage. Sometimes we get stuck in these negative mindsets because of the way a parent, teacher, or coach spoke to us a child. But now that we are adults we have the power to override those years of negativity. Start with the story you tell yourself, and watch yourself transform into a different person.

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.”

Henry Ford

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