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Next up in our series about mastering the art of performance psychology is all about self talk. Check out our previous posts about performance psychology, emotional control, and focus. Today Clay Frost is back to show you exactly how to best talk to yourself to ultimately bring out your ultimate performance.

Self talk is more than the continuous dialogue in your head (and out loud), it’s also your thoughts, beliefs, and the stories you tell. I use a very wide definition of self talk because if we can change one, we can change all the others.

Margaret Thatcher once said:

“Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become…habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become.”

If you believe this is true, then it is time to do something about those thoughts. There are 2 activities to empower you to take steps in the right direction.

Before we dig in, you’ll see I use “productive” and “unproductive” instead of “positive” and “negative.” This is because positive and negative can sometimes be fluffy and ignore the reality of the situations. For example, if I just broke my leg, and I tell myself something positive like: “at least the other one works” that is not at all helpful to my situation, it is positive, but it does not help the situation. Think about how this works in nature. A fruit tree will either produce fruit or it will not, it does not produce positivity nor does it grow sweet encouraging quotes for you to read. Positivity is important, Productivity is paramount. Without actions that produce, your goals will never be met.

Activity 1: Increase Your Awareness of Your Self Talk

Set 5 timers throughout the day, you can choose random times, or you can choose time on the hour. It doesn’t matter what times you chose, only that you do it 5 times throughout the day. Every time your alarm goes off you’ll pull out a piece of paper and write all the thoughts you can remember having from the beginning of the the day or the last time you wrote. You’ll do this for 5-10 minutes.

After you write, label each thought as “productive” or “unproductive.” The way you determine if your self talk is either productive or unproductive is with one simple question: Was that thought productive in helping me toward a goal/achievement? If your answer isn’t heck yes, then it should be labeled as unproductive. The goal of this activity is to become more aware of the thoughts you have and whether or not they are helping you to be productive. As you become more aware of your thoughts, be sure to gravitate toward and use the productive phrases more often. As you identify your unproductive thoughts, be creative and change them to productive phrases or just stay away from them all together!

Activity 2: Tally Your Productive Points

Throughout your day, you are going to keep this sheet, or any other ‘score pad’, available to use at any moment. Your task is to define an objective (a goal, achievement, something that you want to do or get), and anytime you do something that helps you get toward that objective you will give yourself a point! So often, I see performers rarely give themselves credit for the work that they are putting in, they focus on the things that are holding them back, the obstacles, the problems, the mistakes and the failures. In this activity, you are ONLY counting the productive things you do, you will never lose points for anything that happens. You reset your score every night and all you will try to do is beat yesterday’s score! It is in the DOING that you will achieve your goals. The goal of this activity is to keep your focus on production. Focus on producing actions that will keep you on the path toward your goals.

These two activities will assure that you are increasing your awareness of your self talk. This is always the first step in improving anything. You have to set a baseline of where you are and what is happening, this activity is perfect for that. Productivity Points is an activity that will help develop your confidence and also your self talk. If you are looking for the productive things you are doing, you will find them and you will start doing them more often! I’d love to hear how these activities go for anyone who tries them, reach out to me of Facebook or on Instagram!

Want to learn more? We’ll be back throughout the month with a deeper look at each element. Or, learn more on Frost’s site or on Instagram. World of Dance is your destination for exclusive interviews, up-to-date news, and all things dance. Keep up with all the latest news on This Is WOD.

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