Self-Talk: By the Numbers

optimal performance self-talk Nov 04, 2019

I tell my clients, self-talk is like compounding interest - it can either work for your or against get to decide which.

The problem, however, is that if you don’t make a conscious decision, the deck is stacked against you. 

A National Science Foundation study found that most of us have between 60-80 thousand individual thoughts per day. 

Up to 80% of those thoughts are negative. If you recall a previous episode of Mindset Monday, we discussed that the brain is predisposed to focus on threats. This helps keep us alive and aware of things that can hurt us, but it is also a poor recipe for optimal performance.

Worse, up to 95% of our thoughts are repetitive. 

The result? We may have up to 80K thoughts per day, up to 80% of them negative, and up to 95% of them are repetitive. 

Ouch. That’s a lot of repetitive, negative thoughts rattling around our brains. No wonder athletes struggle with confidence during competition.

To me, this negative self-talk is like compounding interest on your credit card debt. It works AGAINST you, even while you sleep. It becomes your status quo, and make no mistake, it inhibits your performance. 

But you can change that.

Psychologists suggest that you can reverse these effects by focusing on positive self-talk. After you recognize yourself saying something negative to yourself, stop, and then come up with 3 positive things to say about yourself and your performance. 

This 3:1 ratio of positive to negative thoughts can get you in the right frame of mind. 

I think of it like the compounding interest we enjoy in our investments. Even though it may not seem like a lot, when you consistently invest small amounts of money over a long period of time, it adds up. 

That compounding interest works even when you’re not thinking about it. When you’re asleep. When you’re doing other things. 

But when you need to make an important withdrawal - like in crunch time of the big game - then you will have a surplus of funds at your disposal. 

On the other hand, if you let compounding interest work on your negative self-talk, you won’t have anything positive to withdrawal in the moment of truth. 

In the video, I describe another study that showed that positive self-talk can improve performance by up to 11%. 

Think about how much better of a player you’d be if you could improve by 11%? 

And by doing NOTHING more than focusing on positive self-talk. 

So remember - do nothing, and you’re likely to have a lot of negative self-talk rattling through your dome that will inhibit your performance. 

Or focus on incorporating positive self-talk into your game and enjoy an increase of up to 11% in performance. 

As the 1990s rap group Black Sheep opined, “the choice is yours......”



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