Mind Your Language – The Power of Positive Self Talk

By September 11, 2016Psychology, Training
Performance Coach

I was training for the 3 Peaks in Victoria a couple of years back, (a 235km bike race with over 4,000 meters of climbing) when a friend asked if I wanted to come for a beer on Friday night, “I can’t, I have to get up and ride tomorrow morning.” It was at this moment I had a realisation; the language we use can really affect our perceptions and motivation. I didn’t ‘have to’ get up and ride, I ‘got to’. I was going to do something I loved, with my friends, in pursuit of a goal I was excited about, yet I was sabotaging my motivation and getting in my own way – all because of the sloppy, lazy way I was choosing to use my words.

I think I can

The first expression, (‘I have to’) is one of obligation, one of sacrifice… one of labour. The second (‘I get to’) is the language of privilege, of opportunity, of passion.

And while we may not consciously choose to use the former negative sentiment, the effect on our mindset is the same… we go into our training with a ‘box ticking’ attitude of ‘just getting it done’ rather than treating it as ‘deliberate practice’, taking joy in training for a goal we’ve set ourselves.

Needless to say, this applies to much more than just training – but you get the idea.

But, How?

Changing habits and mindset can be hard, but it starts with committing to a few simple steps:

  1. Become More Aware – ‘notice and name’ your use of language. This is easier said than done, but making a habit of mindfulness meditation helps, (apps like ‘Headspace‘ are a fantastic place to start) you’ll find that with a little persistence and practice your levels of self-awareness will go through the roof!
  2. Make Small Substitutions – consciously use ‘get to’ rather than ‘have to’; or perhaps you need to stop minimising your achievements by using the word ‘only’ when describing what you’ve done.
  3. Note The Difference – and I guarantee you will.

There you have it. A small difference in language, a big difference in attitude.

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