Mastering the mental side of sports begins with quieting that noisy inner critic we’ve all met.
Everyone’s dealt with inner critic syndrome on some level. Wildly swinging with the most recent emotional toil, our inner critic is our most consistent negative voice to which we foolishly give credence.
As an athlete, we seek consistency. We need routines. These can help quiet that noise. We need to realize that the inner critic is often not speaking truth. Our inner critic is often full of fear, resentment and negativity. We are all greater than our inner critic! Realize that there is a voice that speaks the truth, that speaks to what you are capable of. We all have to give that voice more credibility and greater attention.
I’ve been lucky enough to do some video work for best-selling author Jon Gordon, and he frequently tells a story of a troubled man seeking some guidance.
A man goes down to his village guru to get counsel. He told the wise guru he feels like he has two dogs inside of him always arguing—one negative and the other positive. He concedes he does not know which one to listen to. The guru replies by asking him, which dog do you feed? That is the one that will win.
You have to feed the positive! When you work at the quieting of negativity, greater confidence naturally arises. If you can bring greater self-awareness to this, you’ll be on your way to greater self-confidence.
With that in mind, here are five of my best tips for building bigger self-belief.
1. State It
You first must state who you are and what you will become.
Literally write it down. It can be two sentences, four key principles or an acronym for your values. Writing it down is step one to making this concept of who you are concrete. Athletes like Adrian Peterson have long known the importance of writing down their goals.
National Science Foundation research found that having articulable goals and values is one of the key factors to highly successful people. My grandfather used to tell me if you don’t know what you stand for, than you’ll fall for anything.
2. See It
Writing down your goals is just the first step.
The second step is putting those goals somewhere you can see them. Every. Single. Day.
Whether this be on the brim of your baseball cap, inside your helmet, on the wall of your locker, on the back of your bedroom door, on the side of your bathroom mirror—wherever. I recommend even placing your goals in two or three different places, so you’re guaranteed to see them multiple times a day.
3. Say It
The first two steps are easy enough, but this third one is where you’ve gotta stick with me. Many young athletes in particular have trouble with the idea of “saying” it.
But you need to say your goals and repeat them aloud at least once a day. No one needs to hear you, but you’re reminding you what you’re about. If it’s challenging to say aloud, it’ll be a much greater challenge to live it! Say it loud and proud.
Begin to commit it to memory. I recommend doing this in the morning right as you start your day!
4. Share It
Inevitably, who you are and what you stand for will be tested. In today’s day and age, it may be recorded or broadcasted. Be firm in what you stand for when faced with challenges or situations that require you to stick to your morals. Having the statements you created in Step 1 in your pocket will be useful in shutting down negative situations.
Let those who are close to you and who care about you (coaches, parents, close friends) know. The people who love you will be happy to support you. This is important, as it’s not on this list, but this is how we also begin to hear what we are about through others eyes.
5. Be It
Lastly, live it each day to the best of your ability. Some days will be easier than others. Each day is an opportunity to get better. I can promise you one thing; if you state it, see it, say it and begin to share it, that day will be a bit easier!
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