3. Start journaling
No, you don’t have to record all your thoughts and feelings. But building self-awareness and being reminded of your motivations and goals are two of the best ways to build mental toughness, says Chris Carr, Ph.D., sport and performance psychologist at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indiana. You probably already track your weights, reps, and sets, so just use the same notebook and start working in the following:
Every day, take a few minutes to list two to three things you’re grateful for. (You can also record it in an app like Grateful.) “One of the most potent de-stressors is to remind oneself of what one feels grateful for. It can also increase one’s energy, one’s capacity for forgiveness, reduce negative thinking, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase overall well-being,” says Sultanoff. It can be as simple as being grateful for a really good protein bar or someone holding the door for you, or as big as being thankful for your wife, a good friend, or a childhood coach.
Twice a week, write positive self-statements: “I am a determined powerlifter,” “I am a loving husband,” “I can speak well in front of my peers and boss.” It’ll help improve your self-awareness, which enhances growth and change, and, thus, self-confidence, Carr says. Statements should be specific (“I have great daily commitment to change.”), challenging (“I ran for 20 minutes yesterday. Today I can crush 40 minutes.”), and realistic (“OK, today I can crush 25 minutes.”) to recognize the abilities you have now and the room you have for growth.
Once a week, write down your motivation and goals for the next seven days, Carr suggests. Regular evaluation not only helps keep your eye on the ball, but also allows you to reflect on where your energy is coming from. One tip from Carr: Keep your motivation on feelings of self-satisfaction rather than gaining reward, because research shows that internal motivators—“I want to be stronger,” “I want to feel more confident at my job”—are more powerful than external, “I want girls to look at me more,” “I want to impress my boss”.
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