Our mindset and attitude can play a huge role in shaping the outcomes within our life. The way you train your brain to think not only impacts on our mood but our emotions and outcomes. Many a study indicates that positive self talk creates positive results.
We need to train our brain just as we do our bodies. Elite athletes don’t just put in the hard yards of and complete the physical training, turning up to the big event on the day ready to kick ass. Athletes also use positive self-talk and visualization, as a crucial part in their training - behind every great athlete or sporting team will be a Sport Psychologist.
WHAT IS IT?
Positive self-talk usually consists of brief phrases or words that motivate, inspire and remind us to focus our attention to help us generate the ideal response to the particular scenario or action at hand. But positive self talk and imagery doesn’t just apply to the sporting setting, it can be used (and very importantly – should be used) in our everyday lives, for example;
- Before delivering a presentation at a meeting
- When getting off of the couch and getting into some exercise
- Having a discussion with a team member or leader at work
- Tackling the household chores and your extremely long to-do list
- Running late for work
- When looking in the mirror – and telling yourself that you like what you see
- When trying to fall, or throughout a pregnancy
- When something doesn’t quite go your way – be it whether you spill your coffee or kick your toe on something - don't let it set the tone for your day.
EXAMPLES OF POSITIVE SELF-TALK:
- I can handle this
- I am strong, capable and focused
- I can do anything for one minute
- I am comfortable in front of people and say the right things
- I can accomplish any task given to me
- I can solve any problem
- I love to eat healthy food ;)
BENEFITS OF POSITIVE SELF-TALK:
Yep there are even health benefits from speaking kindly to yourself! Some of these include:
- Can help to reduce and eliminate stress and anxiety – improves coping skills
- Assists in boosting confidence
- Triggers optimism
- Feel empowered
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well–being
- Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Improves performance and results!
MY EXPERIENCE WITH POSITIVE SELF-TALK: PREGNANCY, LABOR & BIRTH
I used to apply visualization and positive affirmations when I was competing in athletics and netball to help me feel more prepared for each game/event, and this was reinforced through completing Sport Psychology units as part of my study at Uni. The big event that I was training for most recently was for my pregnancy and leading up to the birth of Byron.
I was lucky enough to have the lovely Cas from Retreat Yoga help me throughout the second half of my pregnancy, where we practiced Mindful (Hypno) Birthing – something that Cas has recently completed studies in.
For those that know me know that I am fairly laid back but I also don’t have too much trouble in getting anxious. From the day I found out I was pregnant I told myself that I was going to have ‘a happy, healthy and successful pregnancy’. These three key words were so important to me. I wanted to be happy over the 40 or so long weeks of pregnancy and to enjoy the experience, no matter what it might have thrown at me. Being healthy was a big one. For me I wanted to remain mentally and physically healthy and of course I wanted to be growing a health baby. But ultimately I wanted to have a successful pregnancy – to carry a baby to term and deliver them safely. I couldn’t even begin to count how many times I told myself I was going to‘have a happy, healthy and successful pregnancy’. After one ultrasound and discovering that Byron was in the 90th centile I started freaking out about how big her was going to be (he was 9 pound & 56cm). But I then came across another great affirmation ‘My baby is the perfect size for my body’. After affirming this to myself I honestly then no longer worried about how a big baby was going to get through my birth canal. When it came to labor my go to was ‘I can do anything for one minute’ to help get me through each building contraction.
Those first 12 weeks were a killer to get through with the initial scans feeling like the only proof of my pregnancy as I was lucky enough to miss out on the morning sickness and didn’t start showing or feeling those first flutters until about 16 & 19 weeks. I was so happy to have the help of Cas to assist me in feeling more prepared for my labor and the birth of Byron, I also religiously attended her Monday night Pre Natal yoga classes that provided a great opportunity for me to connect with both my breath and my baby.
Many of our sessions were focused on positive affirmations, meditation and breathing. The more confronting and ‘painful’ meditations were the ones I most enjoyed and feel like these really assisted in training me to use my breath to get through the pain – just as I would during a contraction. I even got Phil to try some of these… I suppose there is a reason why women are the ones that have babies and not men ;) I left every session with a sense of calm and a ‘yep, I am ready for this’ attitude. The breathing techniques that we practiced were used that very day in the delivery room. We also incorporated visualization.
A lovely friend of mine got me one of the best gifts ever – birthing affirmations on gorgeous hand painted cards that I stuck to my fridge and could visualize in my head when meditating and when in labor. It also helped remind Phil of what some of my affirmations were to help reassure me during labor.
I truly believe that prepping myself mentally for my pregnancy and birth through using positive affirmations, combined with meditation and breathing techniques every day helped me to deliver our healthy baby boy, naturally and with no intervention or pain relief (although I would have done whatever I needed for his safe arrival, and sometimes no matter how positive you may be things just don't always work out - and that is OK).
POSITIVE SELF-TALK - HOW DO YOU MASTER IT?
- Begin to notice what you are saying to yourself: and then ignore any self-talk that is not helpful (we all do it)
- Find your personal mantra: pick a power phrase or word to assist in regaining your focus.
- A mantra is something you consistently say to yourself to get your self-talk to go from negative to positive – it helps get you back on track and focused on the task at hand.
- Visualisation: positive self-talk is great, but when combined with visualization it has been shown to be more effective (cue elite athletes). Visualise the task or what you want to achieve – really see yourself performing the way you hope to or getting the outcome you desire. Instilling positive images within your head is a form of positive self-talk.
- Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people – eliminate the negativity: they say your vibe attracts your tribe. If you surround yourself with like-minded people this can help reinforce those positive feelings.
I'm not saying that positive thinking or self-talk will solve all of your problems, as this alone probably won't. But I do believe that a little bit of positivity and optimism can go a long way. Lately I've been relying on it when I am sleep deprived (most days). The positive is that the newborn stage does not last forever, so I will enjoy it while it is happening.
So whether you are trying to cook a meal to impress at a dinner party, deliver an all important speech or presentation at work, perform well in a sporting event or just feel a little bit better about yourself - put your positive pants on to reap the positive results. It won’t happen overnight and it takes some time and practice to reduce the negative committee that resides in your head, but keep persisting. Positive mind, positive vibes, positive life.
SHOUT OUT AND SPECIAL THANKS
To Cas at Retreat Yoga and Jen from A Pom Pom a Day. For any expecting Mumma’s out there looking for someone local to help instill some Mindful Birthing principles get in touch with Cas from Retreat Yoga / The Space Karratha. If you are after some of your own beautiful, individual and hand painted affirmation cards, Jen from A Pom Pom a Day is your go-to lady. Thank you both for helping me on my journey!
Be sure to help support these local businesses and even get along to the newly opened The Space in Karratha to attend one of the great yoga classes or workshops on offer!
@RetreatYogaKarratha @TheSpaceKarratha http://www.retreatyoga.com.au