“PLEASE Don’t Do This to Fix a Self-Talk Problem …”

Raise Your Inner Game Sports Academy
“PLEASE Don’t Do This to Fix a Self-Talk Problem …”

Negative self-talk is one of the biggest mental game problems athletes deal with, and every coach wishes they had a good way to help with it. 

Unfortunately, there is a right way and a wrong way to do that, and most of the advice out there has athletes taking the wrong way. 

In this week’s post, I talk about the two options for dealing with negative self-talk and why one is so much better than the other.

This is a super important topic, so please do give this one a listen.



  • The “terrible idea” I recently heard a mental game expert share 
  • Why most self-talk advice can actually make things worse
  • The way you should control negative self-talk instead
  • Listen/read to get the full message


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[ transcript ]

I recently heard another mental game expert talking about ways to deal with negative self-talk. And they laid out an elaborate system they’d developed for analyzing and understanding the various different kinds of self-talk. 

Now, I have no doubt about their experience and credibility and their genuine desire to help. I mean that. 

But all I could think was, this is a truly terrible idea. 

I’m David Levin. Author of Raise Your Inner Game. Founder of Raise Your Inner Game Sports Academy.

And I’m sorry. I know how jerky that sounds. But here’s the thing.

To perform at our highest level we need to be totally present and focused on what’s happening in front of us in the moment. 

I keep referring back to the Michael Jordan story in another post where he talks about being focused on chewing his gum because it’s such a perfect illustration of this. He’s not off in his head somewhere, thinking about this or worrying about that. He’s just HERE, and that’s it. 

That is the key to peak performance, assuming you’ve done the training so your skills are there, too. 

So when you look at your negative self-talk, and you think about it, and you analyze it, and you come up with positive self-talk you can say back to it when it starts talking you down, that all sounds like good things to do. And there are some benefits in it, for sure. But when you do that, in the moment, where are you? 

You’re off in your head. Right?

So this strategy of digging in to your negative self-talk and engaging with it and coming up with positive things to say to yourself instead, it ultimately has the opposite effect of what you want. 

Do you see? That’s why it struck me as being such a bad idea. 

Now, it’s not actually a bad first step along the path of raising your Inner Game. 

Because a lot of people don’t even realize this is going on. They don’t notice that these thoughts are happening, they just hear them and go along with them. And that’s also a huge problem, of course. 

So, becoming aware of your negative self-talk is a good first step.

But if that’s as far as you go and it becomes your whole strategy, it doesn’t really do what you need to do, and in some ways it can even make things worse. 

When you first become aware of all this negativity that’s coming up inside you, it can just make you think there’s even more wrong with you than you realized. And I’m not really joking about that. 

You know, one of the problems people have when they first start to meditate, which is another sort of self-awareness booster, is just that. They see how out of control their thoughts are and how much sort of crazy stuff comes up, and it’s actually sort of upsetting and uncomfortable. 

Now, it’s totally normal and natural. That IS what our brain does, and it’s nothing to be upset about. But when you first see it, it can be a bit of a shock. 

So again, if that’s your whole approach, it’s just not going to get you where you want to go. 

Here’s what you want to do instead. 

When you notice the negative self-talk, don’t engage with it. Don’t argue with it don’t debate with it. Just notice it and then shut it down. “Nope. Not going there.” And bring your attention back to the moment. 

That is how you deal with negative self-talk. 

Now, it’s easier said than done, yes. It does take a bit to really get it and get used to doing it. But you can definitely learn to do it, and when you do, you will simply not believe the difference it makes for you. And of course that is exactly what you learn in Raise Your Inner Game Sports Academy.

So anyway, that’s what I wanted to share today. Yes, start to see your negative self-talk and the effect it has on you, yes, notice that it’s COMING from somewhere. SOMEONE is saying it to you. That’s all super powerful. But do NOT get hung up arguing with it and analyzing it and thinking about it all the time because that’s just one more way to end up stuck in your head. Okay?

Instead, notice it and shut it down.  

Hope that makes sense. I KNOW it’s helpful. 

Honestly, this is arguably the single most powerful thing anyone can do to improve their performance. 

When you can control your attention and decide what you think about and when, and then in high-pressure moments, intentionally think about nothing—that’s as good as it gets, and you will be unstoppable. 

So please, give this your full attention. And do think about taking the Sports Academy training. There’s nothing you could do to make a bigger difference in your game in a shorter time. 

All right. That’s it for today. To hear about future posts when they come out, add your name to our announcement list. We’d love to have you join us. Let us know any questions or comments you have. Otherwise, keep up the good work, and we will talk next time.

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