You know that running dialogue you have with yourself? Think about how many times during a day you doubt yourself, telling yourself something is too hard, or that you can’t accomplish a task because you aren’t capable. Have you ever wondered if you’re not “good enough” to get that promotion at work? Or in the middle of an exercise class told yourself there is no way you’ll make it through the next drill?
Managing our negative self-talk is one of the hardest things to do. So, how do you break the mental barriers that get in your way and make you feel less confident and less likely to take chances in your life? Dr. Jenni Bruning Brown, sport psychologist, offers these motivational tips to help get you started on the right track.
Think process, not perfection. Life is about improving. “Think about everything you do as getting better each day and taking small steps to get there,” she says. “Remind yourself that if you can try to be better than you were the day before, you’ll allow your gains to motivate you.” Jenni explains that this strategy will help you avoid feeling like you are reaching for an unattainable perfect standard. She also suggests that once you hit small goals, you take note, respond & realize that you are moving in the right direction.
See challenge as opportunity. The greatest stories aren’t in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. “Every struggle can be seen in a variety of ways: you can see it as a challenge that provides an opportunity for growth, or, you can see it as a roadblock,” Jenni says. “Once you learn to navigate the challenges, and get comfortable being uncomfortable, you’ll realize that your growth is coming from the discomfort.”
Say “I get to do this”, not “I have to”. Your strength, athleticism, courage & willingness are what got you here. Jenni says that if we can reframe our thoughts to acknowledge that we are choosing to be where we are & celebrating it, our mindsets can shift. “Once this shift happens,” she says, “we will be more positive about doing these challenging tasks. A little gratitude goes a long way.”
Decide and make it happen. Your mind is an incredible thing. You can change it and, yes, you can control it. “Just as one person can respond differently to the exact same situation, you can respond or react in a variety of different ways,” says Jenni. If you decide to respond positively and feel great about yourself, you can and you will. “It may take a little time, but you can train yourself to feel more confident, mentally tough & to respond positively in situations,” Jenni says.
Overall, mental training is just like physical training. The more you work at it, the stronger and more confident you get. Practice makes, better, not perfect. And if we can get a little bit better every day, we’ll look back and see the leaps we’ve made over time.