In Muay Thai it is essential to have 100% belief in your abilities. Fights are often won or lost in the mind. If you have a strong mind, you will be able to push through more pain than you ever thought possible. Conversely, a weak mind will crumble the moment things start going wrong.
While there are many things that go into creating a strong mind, one important aspect is how you talk to yourself. Fighters who are always negative, don’t experience the same amount of success as fighters who have learned to harness the power of their thoughts.
How you talk to yourself matters
The conversations that go on inside your head can make a huge difference in how you feel during training and in the ring.
Most of us don’t realize that the words we put in our head have a negative effect on us.
Just think back to the last time you had a bad day in training. Can you remember what was going on in your mind at the time? You probably thought to yourself, “Why do I feel so tired,” or “I just don’t feel good today.”
While you may not realize it, telling yourself that you feel like shit, will result in you feeling even worse.Try not to feel sorry for yourself.
Why It’s Easier to Be Negative
Research has shown that negative experiences have a much stronger impact on us than positive ones. You would be much more upset if you lost $50, than you would be happy about finding $50. In fact, losing often hurts a lot more than winning does. That is why losing a fight can be strong motivation for coming back even stronger.
When you think back to your childhood experience, you are more likely to remember significant negative events over positive ones. Bad memories of being bullied, teased, bad parents, bad relationships, etc. have a much stronger impact on you then positive ones.
You are more likely to remember one negative comment about yourself, than many positive ones. A guy could have 100 people tell him he looks good, but it is the one girl who tells him he’s small that he will remember for the rest of his life.
Because negative memories are easier to recall, it makes sense why we are so negative when we talk to ourselves. We have been programmed since we were young to gravitate towards negativity, so when we talk to ourselves it is often in a negative tone.
Phrases like, “I suck, why can’t I get it right?” “Why am I always out of shape?” or “Am I every going to be fit?,” are often so ingrained in us that we don’t think twice about saying them.
Learning how to see the glass half full, instead of half empty is no easy challenge. While it is easy to talk to yourself in a positive tone when you are feeling good, learning how to stay positive when things aren’t going your way is extremely hard to do.
It is easy to tell yourself that you are fit, strong, and fast when you feel great, but you won’t have the same enthusiasm if you are getting beaten up by your training partner in sparring.
Being Tired is Often a State of Mind
Most of the time when you feel completely gassed out in training, it is in your mind. You are more likely to quit in your mind first, before your body is ready to give out.
Think of extreme runners and how many hours they can run before they collapse at the end of the race. They are able to endure hours of torture as they run seemingly forever. Without the right self talk and mental approach, there would be no way these runners would be able to make it to the finish line.
“Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
How you talk to yourself will affect how you feel. If you tell yourself that you feel weak and tired, your body will respond to those words by being weak and tired. However, if you tell yourself “Common, lets go!!” or “I GOT THIS!!!!” you would be surprised how you suddenly get a rush of energy from nowhere.
The mind is a powerful tool.
You could be sick in bed with a high fever, and suddenly your little nephew (or someone else that puts a smile on your face) pops into the room and your eyes will light up. You can go from having no energy, to feeling euphoric in a matter of seconds.
This same experience can happen in training.
How many times have you thought you were going to die while your were hitting pads, when suddenly you felt a burst of energy you didn’t know was there. You went from feeling completely gassed out, thinking you couldn’t finish the round, to absolutely smashing those pads in seconds.
Nothing changed from a physical stand point. You didn’t stop for 5 minutes and grab an energy drink. Something fired off in your brain that caused you to feel more energized in the blink of an eye.
The Importance of Positive Self Talk
How you talk to yourself plays a huge role in how you think about yourself. If you always put yourself down and call yourself names, how do you think that will affect you?
Conversely, if you talk to yourself with constant encouragement and motivation to help you push forward, you will reach another level you didn’t know was possible.
If I could sit here and tell you, “hey, the solution to all your problems is to THINK POSTIIVE,” I would. But, life is not that simple. Learning to talk to yourself the right way takes training. Just like you develop your Muay Thai abilities through training and repetition, training your inner mind to say the right things is an acquired skill.
When you hear yourself say something like “I can’t do it,” “I feel week,” “I’m tired,” “I’m not good enough,” or “I’m a failure,” try replacing those words with “I am strong,” “I’m fit,” and “I can.” By replacing the words you put inside your mind, your body will start believing those positive affirmations.
It isn’t good enough to say positive things to yourself, you need to actually replace negative thoughts so you don’t send yourself mixed signals. Remember, negative thoughts have a much stronger impact than positive ones. By being aware of your thoughts, you will be able to start changing the way you think.
Old Habits Die Hard
In order for you to achieve a new state of mind you need to form a new HABIT of positive self talk. You can’t just do something for a few days and hope it sticks with you because it won’t.
Think back to the last time you tried to change a bad habit. How easy was it to change the habit? Humans are creatures of habits. Once we have something ingrained in us, trying to change it is like trying to rebuild an engine inside a car – It takes a lot of hard work.
When you are trying to create a new habit it may seem easy the first few days, but over time your old habits will start creeping back into your life. Usually when you are feeling depressed or down, you will want to fall back on something that can give you a way out.
Anytime you try to change a habit, you will run into a lot of resistance. Our body is designed to fight change. We like things that we are familiar with – even the things that are bad for us.
If you want to learn more about positive self talk you should read the book called What to Say when You Talk to Yourself.
This books walks you through the step by step process of transforming your way of thinking into something that can work for you. You would be surprised how negative programming can affect many aspects of your life.
It is easier to be negative than it is to be positive. When you turn on the news on TV, all you see is negative news coverage of bad things happening around the world. When was the last time you saw something positive being reported in the news?
When you ask someone how their day went, they are most likely going to fire off a list of bad things that happened, before they mention anything positive.
Humans are simply hard wired to be more negative. Unfortunately, when it comes to Muay Thai, there is nothing to be gained by putting yourself down. Telling yourself that you suck and can’t do something, will only make you feel worse.
By learning how to talk to yourself the right way, you will be able to push through those negative thoughts realize your true potential in training. Being positive doesn’t mean telling yourself a bunch of BS lies to make yourself feel good. Positive self talk is about giving yourself the right encouragement to push forward when things are hard and to pick yourself up when you fall down.
Positive self talk isn’t going to turn you into superman overnight, but it can help you change your mindset and attitude in training. Going from a negative to a positive mind, will give you motivation to push harder and achieve more than you thought was possible.