Throughout my martial arts and business career I’ve had the pleasure of meeting outstanding individuals who no matter what the circumstances had a certain calmness about them. Quite often sports reporters describe this ability to handle themselves under pressure refer to it as “ice in the veins.” I often marvel at these individuals ability to perform their best when it mattered most. The Joe Montana’s, Michael Jordan’s or President Bill Clinton. I used to wonder how they did it? Was it a special gift they were born with?
Like many North American’s I once suffered from anxiety. The thought of speaking in front of people or losing a game sent me into cold sweats. When you suffer from anxiety all your worries are magnified 10 times more. That is why positive self talk for anxiety sufferers is hugely beneficial for long term success in anything in life. It’s doesn’t matter if you are referring to exercise, money, career, relationships, or happiness. If you don’t engage in positive self talk you will never experience any long term or lasting success in life.
Engaging in daily negative self talk will sabotage any efforts you make towards your personal success. The biggest problem is it becomes habitual. Most of us don’t even realize we are doing it. Just stop and examine your surroundings. You hear negative comments in the workplace, gossip from friends or family, or tragic stories in the news every day. It’s no wonder our society has become so sad and depressing.
Our emotions act as a bridge to other emotions, so when we feel sad it will bring up reminders of other sad experiences. This furthers our anxiety and depression. We begin to view all our thoughts as true when in reality most of the time it is not as bad as we make it out to be.
What I find interesting and I have been guilty of this in the past is we tend to be our own worst critic. Before I made positive changes in my life, my inner voice kept telling me I was not good enough. It didn’t matter if it was a relationship, career, athletics, or happiness. Deep down inside I believed I didn’t deserve to enjoy great things that came into my life. In fact I feared success.
A big part of the reason why I felt this way was shaped largely by my childhood experiences. Starting from grade school I was one of the few Chinese kids in my class where I was viewed as inferior to the Caucasian kids.
There are other things that occurred such as having a father who was a martial arts instructor who taught in a old school fashion where encouragement was frowned upon. Instead, toughness and lack of positive reinforcement was the norm.
I remember a tournament I competed in when I was 16. It was probably one of my worst performances in my life or at least at the time I thought so. I had placed 3rd in my category. My father blasted me all the way home criticizing my performance. I remember angrily tossing my trophy into the garbage can when I got home. I vowed one day I will show him. I will not only be a champion but a world champion I told myself!
For some, this old school style of motivation can work for a short period of time but you need to be strong mentally. Most people will just say screw it! I don’t need to put up with this and walk away. I find this sad because there are probably a lot of talented people out there who have had their dreams dashed by an authority figure. It could have been a teacher, a parent, or someone they looked up too.
It’s important for parents to remember that kids are sponges at a young age. What they absorb from you in taken to heart. If you nurture them to be great they will be apt to take on life challenges. Cut them down and they will crawl into a hole unwilling to try for fear of embarrassment or criticism.
I hope that in today’s world we as adults have learned from past mistakes and take a different approach when it comes to parenting successful children or improving our own lives through positive self talk.
How To Use Positive Self Talk For Anxiety Relief
1. Break old thinking patterns – when we engage in negative thinking it becomes habit without us realizing it. Like any old habit it is hard to break. Consistent effort to break this cycle is needed.
First thing to do is acknowledge the negative thought when it takes place. It usually starts with how you feel. Your mood determines your thoughts. Whenever I get that bad feeling in my stomach, and the negative thoughts start creeping in my head. I immediately address the situation.
I say to myself okay the bad thought is creeping into my head and I’ve got to do something now before it starts consuming my energy. I say cancel this thought. I tell myself it’s wasting my time and is of no value. I than replace that thought with things that make me happy in life. Things that bring me absolute joy each day.
I repeat this image in my head for 15 to 20 seconds. Eventually I feel good again and the pit in my stomach goes away. Once this happens I quote an affirmation out loud. For example, if someone criticizes your dream of being successful in business. You say I will be successful, achieve wealth, prosperity and happiness because I work harder, smarter and deserve it.
A study by Carnegie Mellon University revealed that brief self-affirmations can help people under stress solve their problems.
I guess there is some truth to Stuart Smalley’s famous quote from Saturday Night Live. I’m good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.
2. Take a step back to evaluate your thoughts – acknowledge the negative thought. Say thank you universe for letting you know about the negative thought and put it in the past. It’s quite easy to do if you take a few seconds to ask yourself if the thought warrants immediate attention. You need to ask yourself if there is any real danger? Is it really true?
A dangerous situation that requires immediate action on your part would be a car suddenly swerving into your lane. On the other hand, getting upset about a friend who wronged you 10 years ago does not serve you at the present time. Situations such as the later warrants you to move on in order to grow personally.
3. Stop being so self-critical of yourself – as a martial arts coach and fitness trainer I’ve trained clients who are truly gifted. They are taught the technique once and they pick it up like they’ve done it forever.
On the other hand, I have some clients who have a tough time grasping a basic concept after a few months of training. The old school way of teaching would have been to criticize the slower learner by using harsh words such as, “you are such a retard, what don’t you understand? My 3 year old can do better than that!”
While it might light a fire under them for a short period of time, over the longer term it would be counterproductive. A more likely scenario would be a loss of confidence and the client would quit exercise completely. Instead they will end up sitting on a couch watching TV because that is where they are safe from criticism.
Another scenario which is not great either is they can continue with exercise or whatever goal they have whether it be career or relationships, but have a habit of telling themselves come on, let’s go, don’t be a retard. Once again this does not offer any solutions or long term value.
When it comes to self-coaching for success it’s best to come up with more beneficial statement. For example, if a kid playing football drops an easy catch. He or she might react by saying I’m so stupid how did I drop that pass?
Instead of using this phrase, I would reword it and say yes I dropped that pass, I’m not happy, but I know what I need to do to be successful. The next time I will keep my eyes focused on the ball until it reaches my hands. My hands will be spread wide open allowing more surface area around my hand to my contact with the ball.
You see the difference here? Just by reading the two statements it’s obvious you feel a heck of a lot better using the later.
Well folks that is it for me today. I’ve got to take the dog out for a nice walk along the ocean. Summer is quickly coming to an end and I love my sunshine!
Once again take care of yourselves. Radiate positive vibes wherever you are in the world. Please feel free to Like, Tweet, and comment below. I would love to hear from you all.