Talk to Yourself!

“I just want you to be who you are.”

Those were the words my wife, Theresa, said to me after a game. I had first told her, “I felt confident out there tonight.” I thought I spoke positive words with that statement. She corrected me. Later that night, I made sure to journal what she said: “Trent, I hear you say, ‘I feel confident.’ And as you like to tell me, ‘feelings aren’t facts.’ If your confidence is based on how you feel, then just know that will come and go. Do you believe you’re a man who isn’t confident but has moments where he feels confident? Or are you a confident man who sometimes acts out of character and don’t show that confidence?”

It’s a subtle shift in wording — but one that makes all the difference. Am I going to allow my game and my career to be dictated based on how I feel? Or can I choose to intentionally fill myself with beneficial and uplifting truths? I needed to stop listening to myself and start talking to myself.

In the book “What to Say When You Talk to Your Self” Dr. Shad Helmstetter says, “The quality of our lives depends on the quality of our programming, that is, how we talk to ourselves.” He goes on to say, “All of us talk to ourselves all of the time…We are thinking machines that never shut down.” Unfortunately, research suggests that over 70% of our self-talk is negative and works against us. Dr. Helmstetter offers levels of self-talk we can progress through in order to improve our programming:

UNLEARN Levels 1 & 2:
1. Negative Acceptance: “I can’t…” or “If only I could…”
– Acceptance of the lie or limiting belief about yourself.
Examples: “I can’t ever remember anyone’s name.” “If only I could get organized.”

2. Recognition and Need to Change: “I should…” or “I need to…”
– Recognize the problem but not planning a solution.
Examples: “I need to start working out.” “I should eat healthier.”

TAKE ON Levels 3 & 4:
3. Decision to Change: “I never…” or “I no longer…”
– Put the negatives behind you and begin to rephrase positively.
Examples: “I no longer try to please everyone.” “I never scroll through social media in bed.”

4. The Better You: “I am…” 
Creates a new picture of yourself that inspires you to action.
Examples: “I am resilient. I always get back up.” “I have what it takes.” 

Stop listening to your feelings and start speaking out the qualities you want to be about. It’s a lesson I struggled with but ultimately grew in throughout my basketball career. Now I’m experiencing the importance of it in my faith, my relationships, my health and my new career.

Classic from Cool Runnings! “I see pride. I see power…”

Explore Further:
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

Self-talk tips I’ve used:
– Stay Present: “I am…” → creates immediate action VS  “I will…” → allows one to put it off.
– Be Direct: Personalize it.
– Be Specific: Speak to the attributes you want to embody.
– Repeatable: A quote, an affirmation, a scripture, etc. that can be recited at a moment’s notice.
– Speak It Out Loud: There’s greater power when we vocalize our thoughts. 

Let me know: Do you intentionally talk to yourself? If so, what are some ways you’ve discovered to be beneficial?

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