Proper self talk for high level performance.
There are many studies showing the effects of negative self talk. Study after study shows a causal link between poor performance and negative self talk. One study also shown that the right type of self talk can improve performance.
Motivational self talk actually doesn't help if the task is process orientated. For example, thinking through a poker hand or doing something with accuracy like throwing a ball. It did show that motivational self talk only helped when the activity required, strength, willpower etc.. Like throwing a ball for distance, going hard at the gym etc.. When you're doing something process orientated your self talk has to be geared towards how you want to think and what you want to focus on. For example when the participants in the study were throwing a ball at a target they were told to say out loud "ball - target". This alone showed a significant improvement in their accuracy over those that didn't.
If you're a poker player, instead of berating yourself, say out loud or to yourself what you are going to focus on. Focusing on past mistakes costs you time, energy, stress and information. If you're focused on the previous hand you aren't learning from what's going on now and certainly not making decisions at an optimal level.
Motivation self talk is more tricky, in the study they participants showed significant improvement just by saying "I can" out loud before trying to throw the ball as far as they could (they did about 1 meter or 10% better than the control group). Maybe it's something simple like that.
Trying to stop your negative thoughts isn't always the best solution. You're opening yourself up to a potential ironic rebound effect and spending a significant amount of energy and willpower (a finite resource). Instead when the thoughts come up you focus on the right type of self talk needed to get the job done. The real skill lies in varying this based on your unique personality and the actual task you're performing.
I think some of us need to learn to treat ourselves the way we treat others, not the other way around. I don't think this means being complacent, neglecting mistakes, or being satisfied (satisfaction is over rated). How you talk to yourself matters, what you focus on matters, in fact what you focus on (and your knowledge) determines your reality.
Ads suck, and I plan to keep this site completely ad free. To do that though, I need your help. I spend 100s of hours of month on this and need to spend a lot of money to improve the site. I ask that if you enjoy what I'm doing on here to consider subscribing to recurring monthly donations or a one time donation. Any amount is appreciated, helpful and motivating. Use the button below to send a one-time or recurring donation via PayPal. All major credit cards accepted. After donating you will be returned to my blog. Thank you!