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Talk To Your Brain, Not Yourself

Negative self-talk is counter-productive to achieving your true potential

I believed that negative self-talk was just me holding myself to a higher standard. I also believed that negative self-talk was me being honest with myself because at least I was not delusional into thinking I was that pretty, or I had the best body, or that I was the most talented. To me negative self-talk was a form of humility, a way to self-motivate myself to strive for more than I was. 

I returned to figure skating to compete as an adult after 30 years off the ice and I am a nervous competitor. I cannot feel my legs, I can get very cold, I get cotton mouth and cannot swallow. Positive self-talk also did not help keep me calm. A friend suggested I read the book, “The Inner Game of Tennis” (which has very little to do with tennis) and it was life changing to the way I think about both life and sports. Timothy Gallwey, the author of the book says, 

“When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed.”  

When you criticize yourself, you are criticizing a seed that is already meant to be a rose. It needs nurturing, not negative self-talk or even positive self-talk. It needs a plan, focus and a consistent approach. The path to put yourself on is one of pure potentiality. Negative self-talk is not your true self.

The brain is your body’s computing system. It tells your body when to breathe, when to pump blood, when to speak. You may think you are in control, but without your brain’s help, your body would not be able to do these things. So if I tell my brain, “You can do this,” or “You got this!” What am I really telling my brain? Just like a computer program needs specific instructions to perform tasks, so does your brain. Instead of talking to yourself, maybe you should start talking to your brain. 

I have always felt intentions were some frou-frou yoga thing people did which always annoyed me because I could never come up with anything noble to say. Setting intentions like “You can do this!” can also lead to failure because I can also fall flat on my face. I mean what is this anyway? By setting a very specific intention, you are directing the brain (and your energy field) to perform a task. My intention now when I figure skate is “calm and controlled” and this has resulted a greater achievements (and less falls) than “You got this!” I’m sending a specific message to my brain that tells my body what to do. 

When a person engages in negative self-talk, they remove the field of potentiality. Rather than channeling energy into changing and evolving, they are stuck believing something that is not necessarily true. Negative self-talk is not your own inner voice. It’s a collection of voices. The voice of your parents, your grandparents, your ancestors, your coaches, your teachers, your lovers, your friends, social media, and advertisers. Will you allow these people to define your true potential? You’ve got one life. Don’t give any one person that much power to direct your future.

Negative self-talk interrupts the computer and gives the brain mixed signals. The brain does not know what action to perform in this case. Figure out what you truly want in your life, speak those words into life and watch your life and you change before your very own eyes. Remember that you little seedling, are already a rose. 


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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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