Thoughts influence our emotions, which impact our behavior. Self-talk is a highly effective mental skill for framing our focus. It’s not something people tend to focus on consciously, but it happens regardless of our conscious control.
It’s estimated we talk to ourselves about 1,000 times per minute, according to preeminent sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella. However, without proper training, we tend to focus most of this talk, particularly in the face of adversity, on negative thoughts. Positive self-talk is a powerful tool to improve performance across a variety of tasks.
Positive self-talk helps eliminate the negative thoughts that creep into our heads during stressful situations or times of adversity. Our brains are wired for negativity, which from an evolutionary standpoint helps us to assess threats and mitigate risky behaviors. However, when it comes to optimizing performance, negative self-talk can be detrimental to success. In his book How Champions Think, Dr. Rotella puts it perfectly:
“While the correlation between optimism and success is imperfect, there is almost a perfect correlation between negative thinking and failure.”
Creating a practice for improving positive self-talk during moments of extreme stress or adversity not only improves performance in those tasks, but also lateralize into other aspects of daily life.
Athletes using positive self-talk were able to reduce their rate of perceived exertion and improve performance in high intensity cycling exercises and improve sport performance in competitive swimming. It has also been indicated that higher “skilled athletes report using [positive] self-talk in a significantly more planned and consistent manner, as well as had greater belief in use of their self-talk, as compared to their less skilled counterparts.”
We believe there are massive benefits to a practice that forces you to push further and find a way to persevere, even when you think you’ve reached your limits. It’s why self-talk is part of XPT Water Training. It’ll quickly help you find the point at which you don’t think you can keep going, while forcing mindfulness to help you keep going. We encourage the use of positive self-talk to fortify the belief that it can be done.