“One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.”
As the summer dies down and another school year is about to begin, my one-on-one coaching sessions with seniors start to rev up. Whether they are preparing for college auditions to get into dance or theater programs or they are prepping their essays and supplements to get into the academic institute of their dreams, I always start our first session the same: the importance of self-confidence and self talk in order to achieve peak performance.
As much as we may want to deny it, self-confidence comes from within not from outside sources. In order for us to perform optimally we need to have the self-confidence that we can succeed and that we are worthy of succeeding. Sounds easy, but unfortunately we know that is not always the case. Our inner voice becomes the key to building and maintaining a strong and healthy self-confidence. In more technical terms, this is called self talk - the act or practice of talking to oneself, either out loud or silently. It is important to train ourselves to limit the negative self talk and foster the positive self talk.
One of my favorite images to use when explaining how thoughts can quickly change the way we perceive a situation or evaluate ourselves is a spiral. A spiral is a curve that develops from a central point and gets progressively farther from that point as it grows. One small positive thought can lead towards an upward spiral resulting in confidence and uplifting energy, while one small negative thought can lead towards a downward spiral resulting in self pity and defeated energy.
For example, when learning a new skill if we tell ourselves we are open and ready for a new challenge our mind will continue to approach learning that new skill in a positive way even when faced with some difficulties. However, if we tell ourselves we aren’t ready or can’t learn the new skill our mind will continue to find more reasons why we can’t, especially when faced with difficulties, until we finally close ourselves off. The same theory can be used in all areas of our lives, our relationships with family and friends, our role within the office, etc. In fact, the more we use these tools in both our personal and professional lives the deeper our mental practice becomes and the stronger we will be in overcoming adversity and maintaining a healthy self-confidence.
Can you think of a time in your life when a single thought created a downward spiral? How about a time when a thought created an upward spiral? Reflect on these moments and write them down. Through self reflection we can understand an abundance about ourselves and the patterns we have created.
Next week, I will offer more tools to help train and strengthen our mental practice. Stay tuned!