Sunday, April 2, 2017

Is your Self Talk a Blessing or a Curse?

Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

The captains on my tennis team had a request; they asked that everyone on the team take a turn and share an inspirational quote to motivate our team. Last week was my turn. I am not much of an athlete so I didn't feel like I had much to share on my own so I googled research about affirmation and sports.  My google search was driven by the truths I had learned over the past year about the biblical concept of blessings and curses. I recently read the book The Blessing by Trent and Smalley.  In this book they use the model that Jacob used to bless his 12 sons to teach people and  parents in particular the power of blessing.  They also talked about the power of cursing and traced the Hebrew root meaning cursing to the idea of devaluing. It is spelled out qalal.  This word is translated "curse" but we would use the phrases devalue, demean, insignificant as synonyms.

Here is the definition from
be slight, be swift, be trifling, be of little account, be light
1. (Qal)
    1. to be slight, be abated (of water)

    2. to be swift

    3. to be trifling, be of little account

2. (Niphal)
    1. to be swift, show oneself swift

    2. to appear trifling, be too trifling, be insignificant

    3. to be lightly esteemed

3. (Piel)
    1. to make despicable

    2. to curse

4. (Pual) to be cursed

5. (Hiphil)
    1. to make light, lighten

    2. to treat with contempt, bring contempt or dishonour

Blessings bring honor, value and significance. A curse devalues, dishonors and treats someone with contempt.

I shared with my team that this Biblical concept of blessing and cursing can be applied to our tennis matches as well.  If we make a mistake we can devalue ourselves and put ourselves down and or we can bless ourselves.

I then read this report to them. "Hatzigeorgiadis conducted a meta-analysis of 32 sport psychological studies with a total of 62 measured effects. The research confirmed that self-talk (affirmation) improves sporting performance. But researchers also found that different self-talk cues work differently in different situations.
    Self-talk focuses on positives statements. "I don't skate well if the ice is too hard and 
    brittle, is replaced by, "I have trained under these conditions and I am prepared. 
    Bring it on!"..  The main goals behind techniques similar to self-talk and visualization is to "rehearse a performance or to meditate to improve focus and relaxation", says Hatzigeorgiadis.
     The objective is "To enhance your potential and to perform during competition in terms of your ability and not less", he said.

     Players who are physically more gifted athletes than their competitors may express their frustration that they are beaten by players who they feel are not equal to them
     Often in these cases an athlete's state of mind or beliefs limits their ability to surpass the competition. An athlete's beliefs start to limit their performance when he or she starts thinking negatively in training or practice sessions:
* “I will never be as good as he or she is.” 

* “I could never jump as high as he or she does.”

* “I don't have the speed or quickness as he or she does.”"

We don't have to play tennis to experience the benefits of positive self talk. We should include it in every part of our lives.  1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

Every day we have a choice are we going to bless ourselves and the people around us. Seeking to focus on the blessings creates a positive impact that can be quantified through  sports psychology studies but more importantly can affect our kids, husbands and everyone God brings into our lives.

Proverbs 14:1 says "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."  We can build up ourselves and our family or we can tear them down.   How do you counteract negative self talk? How you bless others by valuing them?

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