When you hear the term “self-talk” what do you think?
Perhaps “I’m not crazy, I don’t talk to myself”...
Or maybe you think it’s part of some kind of positive psychology mumbo jumbo that you can’t possibly buy into because who really thinks this much about what’s going on inside our heads…
Well, I’m here to argue that this is exactly what we need to pay more attention to. Self-talk is not the inner dialogue of a crazy person. In fact, anytime you think about anything, you are in a sense talking to yourself. According to the National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. That’s 12,000 to 60,000 chances to influence our life either negatively or positively. Unfortunately, the research also shows that on average about 80% of the thoughts we have a day are negative. This negativity can stand in the way of our general well-being and also our performance, so we NEED to think more about this stuff- and WORK to change the negative hardwiring so we can become more successful.
Think about it this way.
If you were getting on a plane and you could hear the pilot having negative thoughts like “I’m not sure if I’m good enough to fly this plane” or “I’m having a really horrible day I don’t think I’ll be able to focus on this flight,” would you want to trust them to fly you?
We can’t put trust in people who don’t trust themselves. So why would we expect anyone else to trust us when we’re going down a negative spiral.
Let’s apply this to horses. Every time you put your foot in the stirrup, your horse is trusting you to in a way “pilot” them around. What kind of thoughts are you having when you ride? Are you focused on everything that could go wrong? Are you doubting yourself and your ability? If your horse could hear your thoughts, would they trust you to be their pilot?
This is not to say that we should have blind confidence where we don’t have the skills to back it up, but we need to address the matter of how specific types of self-talk can be used in different situations to help achieve excellence in learning and performance and to promote confidence.
We’ll be talking more about this in our October episode of The Whole Equestrian Podcast so stay tuned!