vida mind – mental conditioning – mental training – sport psychology
Australia – Melbourne – Sydney – Adelaide – Canberra – Brisbane

Harsh self-criticism is a setup for failure. The mind constantly searches for ways to confirm negative self-talk and sabotage the chances for successful sport performance. The words you choose to cultivate in yourself as an athlete will determine your identity and beliefs about yourself. Your self-image, in turn, dictates how you behave on and off the court.

Often, you learn skills in sport more slowly than you would like to. This might cause you to attack and tell yourself you’re not good enough. Self-criticism is a negative force – a powerful one if you let it be so. Through unacceptance and disapproval of ourselves, we become our own judge. Constant self-critical behaviours inhibit our courage, confidence, motivation and concentration which are all necessary for your best performance.

vida mind – mental conditioning – mental training – sport psychology
Australia – Melbourne – Sydney – Adelaide – Canberra – Brisbane

If you are highly self-critical, ask yourself if you would talk to your friends as critically as you talk to yourself … The answer is probably No! The stress and tension that such criticism causes would hurt your friend really bad and maybe even destroy your friendship. So be as friendly with yourself as you would be with your friend. Be gentle with yourself. Your self-criticism has the same effects as criticism of others, because it makes you lose confidence in your ability to perform. When you judge yourself, blame and talk badly to yourself, your performance suffers further, and you may end up even avoid any sport challenges.

These are some of the typical expressions of self-criticism used by athletes. Do you recognise any?

  • I don’t have enough talent.
  • I never win.
  • I always lose.
  • There’s no way I could do it.
  • I always choke in tough situations.
  • I’m just not meant to be a tennis player, a golfer …
  • I’m not good enough.

Athletic performance mirrors your self-talk. When you listen to your negative self-talk you always begin to get tense and fatigued. It always leads you to a poor performance.

You can do this simple exercise to feel the difference between negative and positive self-talk. Recite each of the two affirmations as if they were true. Then think about the difference in body posture, energy …etc. Recite them aloud and determine which one gives you hope, motivation, courage, confidence and excitment.

  1. I’m not good enough, I’m a loser who does not deserve to be here with all these good players/athletes. I’m just not meant to be in sports.
  2. I am strong, vibrant, talented, physically fit winner who deserves the chance to be the best of all players/athletes. I’m a perfect person to be in sport.

To create nonjudgmental selftalk, start to list the self-negative comments you have with regard to your level of play. Then proceed to change them to their opposite. For example, change:

  • “I’m not good enough” to “I have talent”
  • “I always choke in tough situations” to “I always get up for tough situations”
  • “I don’t deserve to be here” to “I deserve to be here”

When you recite the positive affirmations, be sure to create images of yourself that validate what you are saying. See and feel yourself confident, talented, positive in tough situations.

If you plant a flower, you won’t criticise it because it doesn’t grow fast enough! You are part of nature, and as such living being you grow and perform according to the same principle. So nurture yourself with encouragement and love and avoid the negative self-criticism. Replace it with affirmation of self-worth. We grow through willing to improve and change.

Notice your positive qualities – You have more positive qualities than you realise, but you rarely notice them or give yourself credit for them. You may have a difficult time saying good things about yourself.  These bad habits trap you into believing you are less than you are. To change this, start to write down 5 personal qualities that define you. Take some time to complete this list  (for example, strong, thoughful, fast, kind … etc.). Then you can turn each quality into a positive affirmation you can use daily. This simple exercise will help you to get in touch with the REAL YOU, and help you silence the harmful self-critical talk.

Support yourself! – When you’re being self-critical, remind yourself that the real you inside is great, is a beautiful person. You are good enough. When you hear yourself using a particular negative word, change it immediately to a positive word.

To reduce the frequency of your self-critical behavior, use your new affirmations that you can read them during the day. When you receive a compliment, take it in by saying, “Thank you”. To not accept a compliment is to put yourself down.

A good exercise is to record every negative and self-criticism statement you make for one week in a notbook. When you’ve finished, think about if they are rational, realistic …etc. Doing so, you develop your awareness which is necessary to change. Then replace each of them with a self-supportive and positive statement.

vida mind – mental conditioning – mental training – sport psychology
Australia – Melbourne – Sydney – Adelaide – Canberra – Brisbane