- Acknowledge that negative self-talk may not support achieving objectives
- Identify the common types of cognitive distortions
- Develop strategies to identify the relationship between cognition and behaviour
- Become familiar with the many kinds of cognitive distortions
- Develop participants understanding of how cognitions affect performance
- Develop participants’ ability to identify their own specific cognitive distortions
- Learn to develop more accurate and ‘helpful’ cognitions
- Develop the skills to challenge cognitive distortions
It is likely that participants will have experienced cognitive distortions during their practice. However, they may not be as familiar with how to manage their thinking. By deconstructing their thinking process, participants are likely to feel more in control of their cognitive functioning
- Participants will have an opportunity to identify the many thinking process that occur during performance and practice
- Participants will be encouraged to improve their understanding between the relationship of pressure and cognitive distortions
- Participants will become more prepared to develop their ideal performance state by identifying ways to ‘re-direct’ unhelpful thinking
- Participants will develop a criteria to select helpful and unhelpful thinking during training and performance.
- During exercises, participants will have more opportunity to verbalise some of the ‘hidden’ thinking patterns and be able to better challenge and modify these.
- Participants will develop a better understanding of the effect cognitions have on performance
- Participants will develop their own ability to identify their own specific cognitive distortions
- Participants will learn to develop more accurate and ‘helpful’ cognitions
- Participants will develop the skills to challenge cognitive distortions based on their own evidence.
- Start off the lesson by reviewing unhelpful and helpful cognitions.Ask participants when they utilise more helpful self talk? (eg. when feeling calm, when focused, when supported, when the pressure is not on yet) ;When does the unhelpful self talk creep in? (eg. when under pressure, when not had enough sleep, when feeling underprepared, when had a negative experience)
- Read through ‘Me and my worst case scenario!’
- Introduce the idea that unhelpful thinking patterns are often very distorted thinking patterns, that is, they frequently do not reflect the true reality of what is happening, they can be really incorrect, exaggerated and they can be really unhelpful. For example, looking at yourself in a trick mirror distorts your image so you might look very tall or very short but that is not truly what you are- the image is distorted. In the same way, our thoughts can be distorted.
- Cognitive distortions are common and most people have used distorted thinking at some time in their lives.
- Read through each of the cognitive distortions examples on pages 33-34. Ask participants the following questions to generate discussion about each distortion:- Have you ever used this cognitive distortion?
– When have you found yourself using this distortion?
– What is an example you could share with the group of how you use this distortion?
– If you used this cognitive distortion, how might you feel? what might you do? how could it impact on your performance?
- Conclude with the final paragraph on page 34, summarising that when we think in a way that is not realistic and very negative, we are likely to feel down, demotivated, clumsy, tired and worried which will in turn impact on our performance.
- Read though page 35, the example one, About Sam and complete the task on page 36.- For question 1. : highlight to participants that we often think negatively even when we have very little or no evidence for anything ‘bad’ happening. Even when there is some truth or evidence, focusing on the negative still will not be helpful.- For question 3. highlight how important “comebacks” are. “Comebacks” need to be based on true reality, what is really happening or has really happened in the past.Work through a comeback based on Sam’s example, for example: “I am not hopeless at the violin, I have been playing since I was four and have practiced consistently since then. I do do well, I play in two different youth orchestras and have won several competitions based on my solo performance. While a 4pm audition is not what I want, I usually practice at that time and know I can perform well. I will just focus on the audition and keep up the hard work”.
- A useful point to highlight is that helpful thinking is realistic and positive.It is not just using ‘happy’ or ‘unrealistic’ thoughts (eg. “Auditions are the best and I am going to have so much fun!!”) because these types of thoughts are hard to believe. Using helpful thoughts based on true facts are helpful because they are based in reality and believable.
- Read through page 37 – Example Two – About Emily and complete the task on page 38.Utilise the extra information on questions 1 and 3 from the previous example – Example One.
- Turn to page 39 and read with participants: Be your own “Comeback King” or “Comeback Queen”.
- Ask participants to share some examples, if they are comfortable, of unhelpful things they might say to themselves. List the thoughts generated into different groups based on what cognitive distortions are utilised, asking the participants to help.
- Next, ask participants to generate some “comebacks” remembering to try and utilise comebacks that have real facts in them, that are based on reality and are helpful, rather than just utilising ‘happy thoughts’.
- Lastly, ask participants to identify how they would feel after utilising the helpful thought:- Are they feeling differently or less intensely to when they were thinking unhelpful thoughts?
– How does utilising more helpful, realistic thoughts affect what they do?(eg. are they able to focus better, give things a go that they feared etc?).
– Why is it important to utilise more realistic, helpful self talk when you are an elite athlete or star performer?
- Generate ideas with the group on how they could remember and remind themselves of their helpful thoughts (utilise the graphic n page 40, write them down in a diary, stick them on their wall, rehearse them, tell the coach and ask the coach to remind them regularly, make up a short-hand way of remembering their helpful thought, for example through utilising acronyms).
- Practice generating “comebacks” with the graphic on page 40. Ask participants to share their work.