As a parent, there’s nothing more upsetting than hearing your kids say: “I think I should just give up.” This was something my son said to me when he was first trying out for football.
As a former high school football player, I was excited for my son to experience all the amazing things that come with playing the game. When I was that age, there was nothing like working with my team to defend my home turf and coming home victorious.
That said, there were some not so good things, too.
For starters, as picturesque as playing football in the middle of a rainstorm looks in the movies, it was just another obstacle for us to overcome. The rain wasn’t the worst of it, though.
The worst of it was the trash talkers. Both the ones in the stands and in our heads.
Trash Talkers Pop Up EVERYWHERE!
Even though a lot of us are well beyond our high school football years, we can still experience trash talk. I’m not talking about trash talk from other people, but rather from ourselves. That voice in our head yelling, “You can’t do this! You have no idea what you’re doing. You should save yourself the embarrassment and just quit now.” Or simply, “You stink!”
I’ve definitely had to deal with my fair share of trash talkers in my head. For me, they popped up whenever I started a new job and, of course, when I first became a parent.
For my son, they popped up when he first tried out for football. And I had to help him deal with those trash talkers the way I knew how. By having him keep his focus on the game.
“Do you really believe you can’t do this?”
I pulled a page from the Thoughtfully Fit coach’s playbook and asked my son some questions when he came to me and said he wanted to give up on football. I asked him, “What’s going on that makes you want to quit?”
He explained that he was having a difficult time with practices and that he wasn’t as good as some of the other kids on the team. Listening to him, he sounded stuck.
Trying to be encouraging, I said, “The whole point of practice is to work on getting better. Improving yourself. Do you really believe you can’t do this?”
He shrugged his shoulders.
“What can we do right now that’ll help you?”
Asking these questions helped my son and me understand his insecurities and where his self-sabotaging thoughts were coming from—and the best way to tackle them.
Tackle Your Trash Talkers with Endurance
When we’re up against self-sabotaging thoughts, the feeling of wanting to give into them can be overwhelming. It’s understandable to want to quit, and it’s a good sign you’re venturing out of your comfort zone. The key is to keep your focus on the game and not let trash talkers determine what you do next.
It starts by creating awareness of the self-sabotaging thoughts you’re having—I think I should just quit, I’m not good enough, or I stink. Face the trash talk head on.
For my son, his trash talkers were saying he wasn’t as good as everyone else. Instead of telling him that wasn’t true, I asked him what else? He said he needed a lot more practice if he was going to get better. A-ha! Now we have something to work with. Listening to the trash talker helped us identify our next step. That switch is where we start making our thoughts serve us. What small step can we take?
My son and I took extra time to practice. This small step allowed us to move past the completely normal feeling of wanting to quit.
We may not be playing high school ball anymore, but like my son, when we’re trying something new, we can definitely get slammed by our inner trash talkers. This is something that even as a Thoughtfully Fit coach I still struggle with from time to time. But when we focus on the game and take on these trash talkers with Endurance, we can have our thoughts start serving us instead of sabotaging us. Our trash talkers don’t need to shut us down. They can help us identify our next step.
One-Minute Core Workout
- Pause. The next time you’re trying something new and start feeling like you should quit, Pause!
- Think. Ask yourself: What are my trash talkers saying? Do I really want to quit? What step can I take that’ll help me move past this?
- Act. Take that first step—no matter how small it might feel.
While our high school football jerseys may not fit like they used to, our trash talkers still take up plenty of room in our head. That doesn’t mean they have to sabotage us. Listen to your trash talkers and then choose what you want to do next.