Who Really Uses Positive Self Talk? I Do!
by Hannah Rae Finchamp, Little Bellas Pro Ambassador and Pro Mountain Biker
I can. That is how most of my positive self-talk starts. It starts there, but it loops back, checks behind every corner and ends somewhere that I can actually believe.
We all do it. We talk ourselves into and out of every situation. Some are easier than others. We make decisions all day long. We start with the decision to get out of bed in the morning (this decision is easier for some of us than others). So why is it some things are easier for some people rather than others? Why is it that I can easily convince myself to get out of bed, but it’s so difficult to hit that new feature on the trail? Ok, we are comparing apples to oranges a bit, but I think you get my point. Everything is just a simple decision.
Sometimes this decision isn’t even ours to make. Sometimes a challenge is thrust upon us, and still sometimes we can’t get rid of that nagging voice in our head wanting us to just try.
I often feel this decision is out of my hands when I come riding down a trail and suddenly find a jump or drop in the middle. Sure, I could easily maneuver around the obstacle, but usually I get the itch first. That itch in my mind won’t let me give up. I want to try the obstacle, but I’m scared. I don’t think I can actually do it. What if I crash? What if I look silly? What if I’m not good enough?
You’ve reached the denial stage. All of the doubt is creeping into your mind and you are blocking your ability to speak positivity into your brain. This is where you stop.
Find a phrase or a word that will help you acknowledge this negativity you are bringing to the situation. This thought stopping word not only curtails your negativity but also sets a standard. When you teach your brain to stop negative thoughts it can physically learn that pattern and create new neurological connections for the future.
For example, if I start to think something negative such as, “You can’t do it.” I will immediately counter with my trigger word which might be, “Smile!” This pulls my brain back to the positive headspace and allows me to continue on.
Now that you have warded off all the negativity, you have a moment to evaluate the situation for what it is. Positive self-talk can to amazing things, but it still cannot make you fly. Take a moment to really think about whether what you want to do is realistic. Set a realistic goal and set off to truly believe you can do it.
So the time has come. You’ve made the decision, you’ve pushed out negative thoughts, you’ve assessed reality, and now it’s time to boost yourself with positivity. When I ride, sometimes I even speak out loud to myself-- “Ok.” “You got this.” “Of course you can.”
I’ve seen it for myself; the extreme difference between a positive and negative mind thinking inside of the same body. A couple of years ago I raced a Saturday and Sunday race. It was the same course and the same competition. On Saturday I showed up with a defeated spirit. I was tired and I thought that throughout the entire duration of the race.
At the finish line on Saturday I had a realization. I realized that I had to race on Sunday regardless of this feeling. I realized that in the next 24 hours nothing would change in my body, but everything could change in my mind. I stood on the start line on Sunday with a can-do attitude. On the same course in the same conditions I raced a different race. Not only did I place higher but I saw massive numerical results. My mind had overpowered my body.
That is just one story, I could tell maybe one hundred. The truth is, every time you pedal your bike you need positive self-talk. You need a voice telling you that you deserve to be on the trail, you can conquer the obstacle, and you can ride a little bit further. So, what do you do if you still can’t find a way? Make positive self-talk positive group talk.
Positive Group Talk
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pedaled my bike out to an area with a group of friends to have them tell me, “Of course you can do that.” We are all humans and we are social creatures. Sometimes we have to pull our support team in to quiet the doubt and the question in our minds. Grab your friends and build each other up.
The Little Bellas is the ultimate example of positive group talk. When I watch the Little Bellas and mentors cheer each other on through obstacles and celebrate the small successes I wonder how adults can bring that into our own lives. How can we cheer someone into a job interview the same way that the Little Bella’s cheer when someone makes it over a rock for the first time?
Overtime positive group talk becomes positive self-talk. I can still hear the voices of my friends and mentors cheering me on in the trail even when I’m miles away from them. Positive self-talk doesn’t always have to be in your voice. It can be from anyone in any moment that inspired you. Once you find that moment and that voice, I challenge you to work to be that voice for someone else.
When I ride I hear many voices, mantras, or memories that cheer me on and keep me going. I hold them tight to me and “race with them in my back pocket.” It doesn’t matter where you find it or what your positive self-talk comes from, what matters is that you believe it. Henry Ford said it best, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”