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What's the deal with self-talk?

14 June 2019

Team Girls is dedicated to fostering and promoting girls’ participation in sport. It’s about girls supporting girls, building up their confidence, and knowing they’re stronger when they stand together – on and off the court.

How to get a handle on negative self talk and strategies for letting the positive inner voice win!

What's the deal with self-talk?

Self-talk is your inner voice, the part of your mind that says the things you don't say out loud, and it often happens without you even realising it. It’s important to remember there are two sides to self-talk – both positive and negative. Knowing how to manage your inner voice is an important life skill and sport can be a a great tool to support this.

Positive self-talk

Positive self-talk makes you feel good about yourself and the things going on in your life. It's like having an optimistic voice in your head that always looks on the bright side. You most commonly hear this side of your inner voice when something great happens, like you get a good mark at school or your team wins your netball game. You can also use this voice to find the confidence to make it through a new or challenging experience, like deciding to go to try outs for a team sport. Think of it as your own personal cheerleader!

For example:

  • 'I can totally make it through this challenge.'
  • 'I didn't make the team, but I'll try again next time.'
  • 'I know I did my best.'

Negative self-talk

Negative self-talkmakes you feel pretty flat about yourself, and about life in general. This voice often creeps in when something doesn’t go your way.

For example:

  • 'This is all too hard.'
  • 'I can't do this.'
  • 'I suck at this game.'

Negative self-talk isn't good for you, as it brings you down, and could keep you down. Learning to challenge negative thoughts might take time and practice, but it's worth the effort. Once you start looking at things differently, you'll be surprised by how much of your thinking is inaccurate, exaggerated, or focused on the negatives of the situation. It's like when you lose a game of soccer or don't make the school netball team and decide it's because you can't play at all. That's not true, it's just your negative self talk taking over.

Try some of these tips for taking control of your self-talk:

  • Ask yourself whether the self-talk you’re doing is helping the situation or making things harder
  • Remind yourself of the things you’re good at and times when you’ve had success or done well at something
  • Do something you enjoy to feel good about yourself again

66% of young girls, and 69% of young boys say that playing sport helps them feel confident in themselves, while 50% of young girls and 54% of young boys say it helps them bounce back when they’re having a hard time. Moving your body, doing something you’re good at and enjoy is a great way to challenge the negative thoughts you might be getting caught up in.

It might not seem like much, but self-talk is a really important part of building and maintaining self-esteem and confidence — especially for yoig people. By working on increasing your positive self-talk and reducing the negative, you'll be more likely to get things done and to feel more in control of what's happening in your life.

Sounds good.

Reach out logo

ReachOut is Australia's leading online health website for young people and their parents. Working with registered counsellors, psychologists and mental health professionals ReachOut provides online self-help tools that are used by over 1.5 million Australians each year. A valuable resource for many parents, teens and young adults.

If your child, or anyone you know is having issues with self-esteem, confidence or mental or physical health, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

This content includes the views and opinions of a third-party, and does not necessarily reflect the views of Suncorp. Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, personal situation or needs.

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