The words we use with ourselves (and others) can be empowering or limiting.

Have you ever noticed your constant dialogue when training and competing? Silent or aloud, you may even be aware of your team mates patterns? Notice how you motivate yourself, how you give yourself a hard time. When was the last time you talked yourself out of a workout before you even picked up the barbell, or jumped on the bike?

As a mindset coach, one of the things which I can do to help clients is to interrupt unhelpful patterns of behaviour and replace them with more enabling ones. One of the ways to do this is through changing your thinking and a simple way to do this is through changing your language.

As words are attached to feelings and associations, changing your language can change how you feel about things. In your training each day it can help you to learn more easily, it can help you to overcome your blocks and barriers, it can help you to overcome competition anxiety.

To apply this in a simple way, have a think about a familiar thinking pattern which holds you back. Now craft a different response, a different sentence. Play around with this a bit, it can take a few goes to get it right.

Here are some quick examples which may be useful to you…

  • Replace “I’m rubbish at this,” with “I’m still learning and I’ll get better.”
  • Replace, “This is boring and pointless.” with, “I wonder why others in class are finding this so interesting…”
  • Replace “This is going to be really tough.” with “The more I do these workouts, the better I will get at them.” Or even, “These workouts will really build my stamina.”
  • Coaches – it can be challenging to work with your clients on this, if they are not yet willing to admit that their mindset is holding them back. However a useful strategy and habit to get into is to insert a ‘yet’ onto any “I can’t” statements. It’s an easy way to empower your clients and create space for them to learn. So, “I can’t do a pull up can become, “I can’t do a pull up, yet.”

When language limits, change the words.

Photo: Function SFR athlete and gymnast: Mads Connelly 

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