When I was 15, my parents divorced.
My mother moved 2,000 miles away and my father plunged into an intense affair with his new girlfriend.
For the first nine months after the divorce, I did not cry.
In fact, I did not think about the divorce at all until my sister said, “Dad thinks you hate him.”
Her words shocked me.
As far as I was concerned, I wasn’t upset at all.
I even prided myself on my stoic nature.
See, I thought I could outsmart emotional pain by stuffing it down.
No, I wasn’t feeling intense pain.
But I wasn’t feeling confident either.
My trademark as an athlete – my unstoppable confidence – was gone almost overnight.
Plus I was overwhelmed with negative thoughts about myself, including my skills as
These thoughts really alarmed me.
I was a great athlete and a nice girl.
Why was I filled with negative self-talk?
Confidence is not a quality. It is not a character trait.
It is an emotion.
And if you want to keep your confidence strong, you need to be able to FEEL.
You can’t be depressed, shut down, or numb – for any reason.
But this is exactly what happens when we have trauma, loss,
disappointment, and failure – in sport or life.
When we are traumatized, our instinctive response is to shut down.
Negative self-talk a symptom that we’ve stuffed down fear and failure. Maybe you lost a big one, or maybe you had your personal life turned upside down the way I did.
If you watch yourself carefully, you’ll see that your negative self-talk
happens when you’re agitated about a failure or disappointment of some kind.
But you are denying the depth of your emotional reaction.
So instead of healing yourself, you’re plugging along,
hoping your negative self-talk and low confidence
goes away on its own.
Your mind is your basic tool for survival.
Betray it by stuffing down your fear and disappointment –
and doing nothing – and your self-esteem always suffers.
My story has a happy ending.
I made an appointment for counseling.
There I finally touched my true feelings about the divorce.
When the tears finally came, my sadness was so great I feared my
chest would split open.
I didn’t run away though.
Running from myself made no sense.
I stayed the course and healed my heart.
Little my little my confidence and self-esteem were restored.
The wins came back next.
Negative self-talk is a typical stressor or distraction we face
in sport. To win, you need to know how to deal with every distraction that bothers you out there.
It’s one of the reasons I created my Ebook, The Courage to Win in Sport. In it you learn the secret mental toughness mindset hoarded by superstar athletes, including mental toughness strategies for dealing with distractions.
You can even download it for FREE with our seven day trial. Check it out here:
And make sure you sign up for free mental toughness tips too. They will change the way you approach sport forever.
Lisa Brown is the founder of the Courage to Win and is considered the world's leading expert on deep mental toughness for success in career, love, and sport. She has personally coached over 7,200 achievers to new heights and conducted over 1,300 live seminars on mental toughness across North America. She has been featured by major media including the New York Times and Entrepreneur Magazine, who called the Courage to Win “a straight-forward guide to success, highly recommended.”