“I’m Tony Montana! You fuck with me! You fuckin’ with the best!” I would call that a good form of positive self-talk. Yell that in front of a mirror every morning and tell me you won’t be ready to tackle the day. Tony Montana had it figured out.
What does your self-talk sound like?
I’m talking about your inner voice. The one that says, “You’re too old to change careers,” and “She’s out of your league.”
Do you think J.J. Watt talks like that to himself before he steps onto the field? Listen to Muhammad Ali back in his heyday. Not only did Muhammad Ali have positive self-talk, he would openly vocalize it.
“I am the greatest; I said that even before I knew I was.”
“I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.”
That’s how champions talk. They psych themselves up daily. It gets them ready for battle. It builds their confidence. Affirmations and positive self-talk are pivotal strategies in helping athletes perform at their best level. It reduces anxiety, self-doubt and jitters.
Positive Self-Talk = Confidence = Making Shit Happen
The world rewards the confident. The world does not reward the hesitant, the uncertain and the timid.
Negative self-talk is toxic and unproductive.
Not only does it affect your psychology but it will alter your physiology. It will negatively affect your attitude and the way you carry yourself. Whatever happens in the mind, the body will follow: slouching, weak conversations and ARF (asshole resting face). Don’t be the guy with ARF.
The good news is self-talk can be mastered.
Develop a Positive Self-Talk Habit
Be present to your self-talk. It’s constantly happening; from when you wake up in the morning, “I don’t want to go to work,” to right before bed, “I don’t want to go to work tomorrow.”
• Is it negative or positive?
• What’s causing this dialogue?
• How is it making me feel?
• If it’s negative, is it rational? Is this based on facts or is it a made up story? If it’s a story then this is a good opportunity to re-frame your story. If it’s rational, how can you learn from it?
3. Develop a strategy.
It’s time to create your story.
• Make a list of positive traits about yourself. Don’t say there’s nothing good about you either. You’re being lazy and giving in to your own bullshit. Sit down and reflect on times where you did something good. Use those times as a benchmark. It will be even better if you are able to get this feedback from friends, family and coworkers. These are the people that see how you act in the world. And how you act is who you are to the world. If you disagree then it’s time to change this.
Asking others for feedback was hard for me. What I did was frame it as an exercise I was doing for a leadership program. “Hey Steve, I’m in this Dale Carnegie Leadership Seminar. My current assignment is to gain positive feedback from others. The purpose of this exercise is to build on my strengths. Do you mind providing me with a few positive traits you’ve noticed while working with me?”
• List traits you want to have. Who do you want to be? Be fun, creative and bold. Be like Muhammad Ali!
• Turn around challenges. Flip negative to positive.
Make reciting your story a daily practice. Recite it in the morning, in the shower, in the parking lot at work, at lunch, before dinner, before bed, in your dreams. Get excited about it!
Review what happened throughout the day. Were you conscious of the moments you were negative? If yes, did you review the previous steps to turn it around?
All of this may feel unnatural and fake at first. It might seem like you’re trying to talk yourself into being a positive, confident person. I agree, but it is because this is an untrained muscle. Over time this habit will become who you are. It’ll change the relationship you have with yourself and others.
Change your story. Change your actions. Change your life.