The Resilient Athlete: Quieting the Internal Naysayer

“You have to stop listening to naysayers. You have to believe in what you believe in, and you
have to be mentally tough.”

This quote is from Kristin Armstrong, a four-time Olympic cyclist, and three-time gold medalist.
Armstrong was 31 years old when she made her First Olympic team in 2004 and finished out of
medal contention in 8th place.

It would be easy to give into the naysayers… “You are too old,” “You started the sport too late”
or “You only finished 8th. Why continue?” Armstrong stayed positive, won the gold medal in the
next three Olympic individual time trials and made Olympic history becoming the first cyclist
ever to win three gold medals in the Olympic cycling event.

You have probably heard the negativity from naysayers in your athletic career too. Out of all the
naysayers, there is always one voice that screams loudest… one voice that has the biggest
negative impact… and one voice that you probably buy into the most. That negative voice is the
naysayer that resides in your mind.

Your internal naysayer is the biggest negative influence on your sporting career and life. But
somehow, we often believe every word our internal naysayer blurts out, no matter if it’s true or
false.

You can probably remember a time when some person told you that you weren’t tall enough,
strong enough or talented enough to succeed in your sport. You probably thought, “Not good
enough? I will show you. I will prove you wrong!” You discarded what that person said as
rubbish and set out to do whatever it took to prove them wrong.

Somehow, things change when our internal naysayer tells us we are not good enough. Our
internal response is often, “You know, you’re right. I’m not good enough.” You then seek to
prove your internal naysayer right.

If you wouldn’t accept a negative judgment from someone else, why would you blindly accept
that negativity from within? What if you were to tell yourself, “Okay naysayer. Just because
that negativity pops up doesn’t make it fact. So, I will show you what I’m truly made of. I will
prove that I can.”

Just because you think something doesn’t make it true. Some statements are just wrong. Just
like the shape of the earth didn’t change no matter how many times people in the distant past
thought the world was flat. Pythagoras challenged the once-accepted worldview. If you can
learn to challenge those once accepted negative self-statements, you can quiet your internal
naysayer and open yourself up to uncovering your vast athletic potential.

Tip for Quieting your Internal Naysayer:

When you notice a negative self-judgment, don’t buy into that statement. Instead, ask
yourself 3 questions:
          •     “What evidence is there to support this statement?”
          •     “Is this statement true in every situation?”
          •     “What evidence is there to counter this argument?”
If you make an argument for yourself, your internal naysayer slowly relinquishes its grip
on your mind.