The post below was originally published in 2011, and it's been updated each year to reflect where I am in my life and the new...Read More
Words Are Power
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a monologue running inside your noggin almost all the time. Here’s a potentially scary, representative excerpt for you:
I wonder what if people are going to like the new Well Fed 2 recipes. Jeez, I’m hungry. Oh! Look at that cute puppy! Man, I can’t wait to go our trip to Europe. I wonder how I’m going to eat and exercise right. I mean, I am going to eat and exercise right… right?! It’s really amazing that Charlotte Bronte came up with the story of Jane Eyre, considering what her life was like. How did she do that? Will I ever do anything that awesome. CRAP! I need to meditate today. What time is it?…
There are occasions when my inner voice shuts its pie-Sunbutter hole. Namely, in the front row of a loud concert, romantic moments with my sweetie, during meditation, and in the throes of my workouts.
When I’m training, the effort usually silences that stream-of-consciousness chatter. But I do talk to myself when the stopwatch is ticking or I’m underneath the barbell. This article from the blog Growing The Game Together got me thinking about what I say to myself – and how I say it – during my workouts.
The article is meant to address coaches and parents talking to players, but the same tips apply to our own inner voices, as they coach us through our lives. Here are a few valuable snippets; I encourage you to read the whole thing:
Should – Replace it with WILL. There is a big difference when you speak to yourself with will, as things will go that way, while “should” simply gives more reasons not to make it so. “Should” means “might” to your future actions while “will” means it is going to happen.
But – Change it to AND. “That was the fast arm swing we want!, but…..” So what is coming? Yep, a slam on what was done, some flaw in the positive, specific feedback you are sharing. It slams the door on the feedback … Changing the word to “and,” or simply saying it without “but” and giving positive feed-FORWARD. For example – ….”now let’s keep that fast arm and start doing new shot variations,how about a line shot or do you want to incorporate some other option?”….
Can’t – This one is a no brainer to eliminate too, but we need to guide the self talk of players to not use all these words with themselves… We need to make it clear to them at the start of a new variation or skill that you are not focusing on the errors, only the successes, and that you are asking them to do something they are ready to do and CAN do, just not 10 out of 10 times…yet….
Finally, the quote below is my favorite piece of advice. The author calls it “car ride words,” and it’s the kind of thing anyone would want to hear after a practice, a game, a workout, or even a tough day at the office
It is simple. Say the following. “I LOVE to watch you play.” Then be quiet. Win or lose, the rest of the conversation needs to come from the PLAYER, not the parent or coach….
Sometimes, just saying to ourselves something like, “I love that you worked out today.” is enough. Then just be quiet.
Don’t be such a baby.
Um, yeah. I might have said that to myself this morning when I was running intervals around the lake. I did 10 rounds of :30 all-out followed by 2:00 of recovery walking (followed by 20 minutes of walking).
Turns out, 30 seconds of all-out running is pretty hard after, say, the first four rounds. And I definitely yelled at myself, in an internal snarky voice: Don’t be such a baby.
Then I thought, Um, you wouldn’t say that to anyone else in the world, so how about being a more supportive coach on the next one?
On the next few sprints, I told myself things like, Keep going! and Don’t quit! and You can do it! and Sure, OK… slow down a little if you need to. And then, honestly, on the last few sprints, I was working so hard I couldn’t think anything at all. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.
My point is this: I enjoyed the sprints a lot more when I was not calling myself a baby. I have no idea if my running was improved by the kinder approach, but I sure felt like smiling a lot more than with the insulting monologue. And to me, that’s the whole point.