I was told early on in life to use “I” statements. I was also instructed to use feeling words like frustrated, upset, and agitated. Yep, those seem accurate descriptors when I am pissed. The key is to train and remember this linguistic skill during stressful times especially when having arguments (growth moments) with my wife.
However, I was never properly instructed on how I should talk to myself.
We rarely talk negative to ourselves when we are thriving and doing well; frankly that’s not mental toughness! When we are on track, we can basically say anything to ourselves that will help us focus.
Mental Toughness however occurs when we are struggling, when things are not going well. The inner chatter, inner voice, and dialogue that we have can take a dramatically different tone.
We are also poor at diagnosing our own self-talk. So, check this out and let me know if you agree.
YOU idiot, YOU suck today, YOU should know better…You, You, You…
These dominate the negative thoughts. I think the YOU statements occupy about 80% of the negativity.
The YOU voice can also ask rhetorical, outcome-based questions. “Are you sure you should be here?” ” You think that is correct?” “Suppose you fail?”
It doesn’t mean we don’t use negative I statements, but if we had a negative parent, or a negative coach, chances are, the YOU negativity, are the statements we will hear. I’ve even heard pro’s at the end of a season just berate themselves, and say things like “you’ve never had it.” Who told him that?
When we hear that inner voice utter YOU, it’s a red flag. The YOU voice is accusatory, its judgmental, and it saps our confidence and focus. It is the same reason why we don’t use it in discussions with our spouse.
Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness