How do you talk to yourself?

We often talk about the power of great coaches, those special individuals that are able to see things in you that you aren’t yet able to see for yourself.

The ones that can effortlessly connect and support in a way that brings out the best in you.

Often these individuals are incredible communicators. They not only speak your language, but they have the ability to listen to your words and your actions.

They can engage in powerful conversations that unlock the path to a whole new level of performance for you.

Equally they never shy away from uncomfortable conversations that tell you the things you don’t necessarily want to hear.

But most importantly, they effortlessly step into the human conversations that bring about connection, empathy and understanding. The type of conversations that make you realise how much they genuinely care for you as a person and not simply the thing that you do.

The quality of these conversations can often make or break an individual.

We all need a coach or a mentor in our life that can lift us when we are down and ground us when we begin to believe our own hype.

However, I believe the conversations that you have with yourself are FAR more powerful than any coaching session you will ever have and can be the difference between never-ending self-doubt and extraordinary performance. 

I’ve coached serial winners and exceptional leaders in sport and business, and I’ve seen firsthand the difference in the way the true elite master their own mind.

We are taught from a young age (especially in the UK) to be humble, to not get above our station and to almost apologise for being good at something! 

The greats deal with things differently.

They have an unwavering self-belief. 

They know what they want, and they have the determination to go out and get it. 

Their confidence levels often border on arrogance, but their ability to deliver means that their self-belief cannot be questioned.

I’m a firm believer that your ability to succeed starts with two simple factors:

Having a clear vision for what you want.

Having a clear plan of how you will achieve it.

The rest comes down to your habits and behaviours and whether they back up your goals. 

If we have around 70,000 thoughts per day, then the majority of these need to be positive and empowering if we are going to have any chance of success in sport, work, and life.

We can’t consciously control every single one of these thoughts, and so we need to ensure that we can be disciplined in our habits and check our self-talk.

It’s often said that you should watch your thoughts, for they become your words.

Watch your words, for they become your actions.

Watch your actions, for they become your habits.

Watch your habits, for they become your character.

And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

What message are you telling yourself each day? 

If you’re self-talk is suggesting that you will struggle to win, that is precisely what will happen.

But having an unshakable belief in yourself is hard. We’re all going to face obstacles in life, but it’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how you choose to respond to the setbacks. Having the belief to stick to the plan when results aren’t going your way is hard.

As the saying goes your need to choose your hard!

Marriage is hard. Divorce is hard. Choose your hard.

Obesity is hard. Being fit is hard. Choose your hard.

Being in debt is hard. Being financially disciplined is hard. Choose your hard.

Communication is hard. Not communicating is hard. Choose your hard.

Life will never be easy. It will always be hard.

But we can choose our hard. Pick wisely.

You might be thinking, this is great, but do I simply change the habit of a lifetime and start having more positive conversations with myself?

The short answer to that question is YES!

First, be open to trying a different approach. If the way you have always acted hasn’t given you the results you have desired, maybe it’s time to try something new?

Most people will be fearful of change.

Most people will continue doing the same things wondering why they keep getting the same results.

But I’m guessing, the reason that you’ve probably read this far into this article is because you don’t want to be like most people?…

You can change the way that you think, the way that you talk to yourself and the direction of your life, IF you really want to.

I want you to think about a time in your life when you did something that made you proud.

Maybe you won an award?

Maybe you got a promotion?

Maybe you stood up for yourself…

Whatever it may be, take yourself to that place and focus on the version of you in that moment. Then recognise that if you have done something in the past, then it is possible to do it again in the future.

That strong version of ourselves that we are truly proud of exists in all of us, sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of this fact.

Many years ago, someone asked me to speak at a conference they were hosting. There were going to be over 1000 people at The Emirates Stadium in North London and he wanted me to present to his delegates.

I’d never done this before and so I needed to work on who I needed to be in order to feel comfortable standing up in front of 1000 people and sharing my ideas and so I came up with 5 traits that I knew I needed to demonstrate if I was going to be able to deliver the presentation in the best possible way…

I decided I needed to be Cool, Calm, Clear, Concise and Confident.

And if I nailed “My 5 C’s” I knew I could deliver a great talk.

So before practicing my presentation I checked off those points off on my fingers.

Cool… Calm… Clear… Concise… Confident

I then made a fist to keep hold of them.

And I did that on the day and each time I started to lose my train of thought I made a fist and it brought me back to who I needed to be, and not only did I deliver a great presentation, I was voted best presenter for the whole event.

This worked well for me but it may not work for you.

I’ve worked with countless leaders and teams to have more impactful conversations with themselves. With some individuals I’ve worked with them to create mantras that they repeat before going out to perform, for others it’s breathing a relaxation techniques to take them to peak state.

The process varies from one person to another, but the goal is always the same, to quieten the negative self-talk and turn up the volume on your own internal cheer leader!

Once you start doing it in one area of your life it quickly carries over to other areas and you may find that relationships improve, new opportunities present themselves to you and everyday interactions become more enjoyable.

If you can be open to trying something new then you can start to talk to yourself about success and purpose instead of failure. You can set challenging new goals, take joy in the process, give yourself honest feedback, embrace setbacks as opportunities to learn, and unlock your full potential.

But it all starts with finding the time to have the right conversations with yourself. 

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