Carli Lloyd is America’s newest athletic superstar — and winner of the Golden Ball award for best tournament player in the Women’s World Cup. Anyone who saw her score three goals in the first 16 minutes of Sunday’s soccer game, including an incredible midfield kick that blasted over the Japanese goalie’s head, knows what a fiery competitor she can be.
But even a high-performing athlete like Carli struggles with nagging, hypercritical self-talk — something we can all probably relate to. As writers, many of us find ourselves trying to tune out that critical editor’s voice in our heads telling us that our work isn’t good enough or we’re not working hard enough, or a hundred other negative tapes.
In an inspiring short video called, “Dealing with Mistakes,” here’s what Carli said about her struggle to reframe her mental attitude when she feels tempted to get down on herself for making an error:
“I’m actually an athlete who’s pretty hard on myself. I tend to struggle with recovering quickly and I’ve been working on that a lot in the last year….Training with the USA, you have to be pretty composed all the time, so I try to not drop my head anymore — I try to keep my head up… Self-talk is actually something I’ve learned is really important. So instead of saying something that is degrading to how I just performed or how I felt about my performance, I try to say something to myself that’s like constructive criticism — ‘You did this, but what can you do to be better the next play?’ I’m still getting better at it, I’m still pretty bad with my self-talk. It’s natural for me to drop my head and say something angry to get it out and then to move on. I’ve been trying to work to be better at that, it’s definitely a challenge, but it’s important to keep positive talk going in your head, especially so that your teammates see that your energy is positive… so that you’re trying to keep the atmosphere relaxed and not so angry and down.”
What can we learn from superstar Carli about being more self-supportive? First, even world-class athletes struggle with diminishing themselves and their performance, so we’re not alone. Second, shift gears quickly — instead of getting sucked into a downward spiral and negative loop, reorient yourself right away and focus on taking immediate steps to rebound and improve. And third, positive self-talk = positive energy = a relaxed, upbeat atmosphere = the best opportunity for creativity and high performance. Bravo, Carli! Let’s take a leaf from her book as we write on!