How To Recognise Negative Automatic Thoughts

Or… NATS. A really important aspect of sport (and life) is self talk. Negative self talk can result in you performing below your potential. Thoughts such as, “You don’t belong here” and “You are going to come last” “give up” can really hinder you before you even start.


I am a sucker for this… I almost prepare myself for the worst as if it will protect me if it happens. You will notice that those at the top of their game do NOT do this. I watched Eddie Hall talk last year and he said “Yes I’m arrogant. But I need to fake arrogance in order to gain confidence” and there’s definitely something in that.


Recognising NATs is a major component of self talk for sport and is also used in cognitive behavioural therapy, which is utilised for helping depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders.


Negative Automatic Thoughts are:


♡Negative – they make you feel bad about yourself and are unhelpful (e.g. I’ cant do this. This is pointless etc)
♡Automatic – you do not control them… they just appear in your mind. They can be a habit and hard not to think them.
♡Believable- they seem to be facts and easily accepted.
♡Biased – They tend to support how you currently feel or based on past experience but often ignore a lot of other evidence and information that doesn’t fit with it.


Catching them is so hard to do. They can be so engrained that they appear as a reality rather than a thought. You must:


♡Use feelings as a cue- if you feel upset, concentrate on what was going through your mind.
♡Look out for pictures your mind has created and look out for any negative images your mind create.
♡If you seem upset by an event or situation ask “How did I view this” and “what did it mean to me”

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