Tidying the Mind Part 3: Purging Negative Self Talk
I’m hopeful you have begun the Tidy Up process as described in my two former blogs The Art of Tidying the Mind Parts 1 & 2. If so, you have identified the language that derails you, moved onto the purging phase, and are now ready to incorporate a tidy mind going forward.
Kondo’s process emphasizes discarding all unwanted and unneeded material at the same
time. Mind Tidying, however, may take a week or month or even a full year. It is important to make a solid commitment to the work so as to get to the bottom of it, allowing new mental processes to become natural habits.
The Path to Peak Performance typically comes in the form of reassessing negative self-concepts and the ideas that come together to make up your beliefs about what is possible. This process requires honesty about your relationship to yourself and others. The results may reveal simple shifts in your thoughts and beliefs that will ultimately give you freedom from the banter that distracts and disrupts confidence.
I will always recommend keeping a journal of your work, but with these steps it is essential:
Become acutely aware of some of the agreements you have made about what is true about you, your life, and your relationships from early childhood. Some of this material may have come to you before you had a complete vocabulary so they may feel more like sensations, not completed thoughts. Create a section in your journal for ‘Unspoken Agreements’ and write them all down as they emerge. Examples for this section come from the inner small child voice that may have thought things like, “I get love when I am quiet" or "I have to be perfect to get recognized" or "I am only worth talking to when I serve others" or "when I make mistakes I am still loved.” Allow all of your ideas to flow as there is no thought that is unimportant. Feel free to add to this section anytime a new agreement emerges.
Notice how the early agreements that you made without knowing it are still applied to your current relationships. Make a list of current important people in your life and write the unspoken agreements in each one.
Develop an ongoing review of this section that allows you to decide which unspoken agreements you would like to keep and which you will release. Emphasize focus on those which you want to keep.
Replace with positive visualization. Again, the idea behind this process is to visualize your destination, and discard material that does not support your ideal mental and emotional life. It is essential to be specific with your words in this step. Ideas for a clear mental goal for mind tidying include:
I will stay focused and empowered under pressure.
I will feel my deepest emotions and still be able to perform at my highest level.
I know I am an excellent athlete [fill in the blank] even when I am feeling challenged.
My sensitivity opens me to my intuition and strength – both physically and emotionally.
My performance is not a measure of my worth.
I am good enough no matter what others say.
Vividly picture yourself under pressure believing the truths you want to become your default. Add details to the visualization that include sensory input including weather, adrenaline, nerves, emotions, auditory, and visual stimulus. Apply the new self-talk to the picture. Include the experience of joy to this visualization process. Make sure your new self-talk beliefs include the sensations you associate with feeling joy. This may be visualizing yourself at the moments leading up to competition, feeling normal pre-performance stress, focused and empowered as well as a sense of joy. The joy will help your brain continue to seek this trajectory as positive emotions seek out more of the same.
These steps will create an intentional mind that has the strength, awareness, and resilience to focus sharply under pressure and challenging circumstances.
The mind-body connection is an essential factor in all aspects of life including taking an exam at school, presenting in front of a prestigious crowd, or entering an athletic competition. Keeping the mind free of clutter and the thoughts that may derail focus is the direct route to connecting mind and body in the present moment. I don’t claim that eliminating all negative or random thoughts is even possible, but that work is the key to optimum performance. Engaging with thoughts and beliefs on a regular basis maintains a clutter free environment in the brain, allowing the neural pathways that promote intention-action oriented behaviors to guide thinking and awareness under pressure - an essential piece of reaching your MindZone.
If you need support with the development of a personalized practice, feel free to set up a consultation with me. If you would prefer self-study, try The (W)inner Circle Series, a guided program I developed to support this work on your own schedule. It contains videos, downloadable MP3s, an interactive workbook, PowerPoints of each talk, and extra support resources.