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The Difference Between Thoughts and Self-Talk!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #105

Do you talk to yourself?

Did you just ask yourself “do I talk to myself?” See what I did with that?

We say 6 State of the Union addresses to ourselves EVERY DAY! How boring is that 😊!

They say that over 80% of the things we say to ourselves are old, rehashed stuff. I think I agree as I think about what goes through my head!

But here is the real problem, over 70% of those six State of the Union addresses is non-productive.

That is a HUGE percentage.

When I talk with teams about self-talk, I get a ton of mixed reactions.

Some athletes don’t want to think about it. Some are just downright mean to themselves. Some say they don’t really talk, they just doubt.

Any way you put it, if we talked to our friends the way most of us talk to ourselves, we would have very few friends!

Here is a question I heard on a podcast the other day…what if they broadcasted what is going on in your head over the loudspeaker or up on the scoreboard? Would you be proud of the way you treat yourself?

So, what do we do about this issue of SELF-TALK that limits our actions, sways our confidence and hinders our performance?

First, we need to label the difference between THOUGHTS and SELF-TALK.

Like I say to my athletes, we do not control our thoughts. Our thoughts happen to us.

Think about the last time you had a thought and said, “where did that come from?”

We are bombarded by thoughts, new and old, all day long and most of them are not helpful to us a the moment they occur.

In fact, most of them are focused on the past or the future, not what we need to do NOW!

We cannot control our THOUGHTS, but we can control our SELF-TALK.

SELF-TALK is something you DO! It is time to stop listening and start talking!

How we REACT to our thoughts is what matters…and it is a choice!

Thought + Response = Outcome

This looks just like the very familiar equation of Event + Reaction = Outcome…SAME EXACT THING!

A thought happens to us (just like an event happens to us), we react and that reaction affects what happens next.

“I can’t hit that pitch,” your brain says. If we don’t talk back to this thought, guess what? You are right! You can’t hit that pitch. Not because you can’t hit it physically, but because you thinking about the million reasons you can’t hit that pitch to prove your thoughts right.

If you want to hit that pitch…or do anything, it is then your responsibility to talk back to that thought.

“You’ve hit that pitch before” or “that is the pitch you have worked on all week.”

The “I can’t” thought turns into “I can try this” or “I haven’t done that YET.”

This is where telling ourselves WHAT WE WANT or comes in!

Our brain is really good at thinking about everything that could go wrong. Our RESPONSES to those catastrophic thoughts, that if left to roam around our heads for too long will destroy our ability to perform, can put them in their place!

As Trevor Mowad said in It Takes What it Takes, our words are tools that can build us up or tear us down. They predict and perpetuate our performance.

Thoughts pop up and make us feel a certain way. The way we feel affects our behavior. The way we behave affects our performance. The way we perform affects our results!

These darn thoughts.

They will keep coming. What is your plan for managing them since you can’t control them!

If we want to be our best, we must start talking and stop listening. It isn’t about putting all your effort into changing your thoughts or pretending they don’t exist. It is about talking back to those thoughts that don’t help us and running a narrative in your head that helps you be your best by


Manage the moments…and your thoughts… and have a great week!


Julie Jones

Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946

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