“Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

~Norman Vincent Peale

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In the full episode you will learn: 

  • how to talk to yourself, not listen to yourself
  • the importance of hard work
  • why your ‘why’ needs to be bigger than money

To follow Shea Hillenbrand, click here.

When I had the chance to sit down with MLB All-Star Shea Hillenbrand, I was stepping into an unknown yet incredibly enriching experience. Shea, with his dynamic presence and profound storytelling ability, instantly drew me into a world of lessons learned from both triumphs and trials. Our meeting took place in the comfort of his Arizona home during a sweltering summer, a fitting backdrop for the warm and engaging tales that unfolded.

Before we delve deeper into the art of self-talk and its impact on teen development, take a moment to watch the video at the top of this page. It captures the essence of our conversation and Shea’s passion for using his life’s narrative to positively influence the youth. His journey is not just about his achievements in baseball but also about his mission to empower young people through his stories, some of which might truly take you by surprise.

Understanding Self-Talk

Self-talk is the internal dialogue we all engage in with ourselves, often unconsciously. It can range from words of encouragement to harsh critiques. For teenagers, who are in a critical stage of developing self-identity and self-esteem, the nature of this self-talk can be particularly impactful. Positive self-talk fosters resilience, confidence, and a proactive approach to challenges, whereas negative self-talk can spiral into self-doubt and hindered growth.

The Significance of Self-Talk in Teen Development

Self-talk isn’t just background noise; it’s a powerful influence on a teen’s mental health and overall well-being. The way teens talk to themselves can affect their emotional resilience, stress management, and decision-making skills. By learning to cultivate a positive internal dialogue, teens can face life’s challenges with a more constructive and confident mindset.

Positive vs. Negative Self-Talk

  • Positive Self-Talk: This involves affirmations and supportive language that teens can use to boost their confidence and motivate themselves. Examples include “I can handle this,” “I’m learning and improving,” or “I know I can figure this out.”
  • Negative Self-Talk: Often involves criticisms or self-doubt that can lower morale and increase anxiety. Phrases like “I can’t do this,” “I’m not good enough,” or “I always mess up” are common examples.

Educating teens about the impact of their internal dialogues and guiding them to recognize and modify negative self-talk can be transformative, setting the stage for a healthier mental environment.

Strategies to Encourage Positive Self-Talk in Teens

Teaching teens to engage in positive self-talk is a skill that will serve them throughout their lives, influencing how they handle stress, setbacks, and their own paths to success. Here are some effective strategies parents can use to encourage this healthy mental habit:

Model Positive Self-Talk

Teens often learn by observing. By consistently modeling positive self-talk, you demonstrate its power and practicality. Let your teen hear you using positive affirmations and constructive statements about yourself and challenging situations. This exposure can help normalize the process of transforming negative thoughts into positive ones.

Discuss the Power of Words

Initiate conversations about how words can shape thoughts and emotions, and in turn, influence actions and outcomes. Discuss examples of negative and positive self-talk, and explore together how different phrases can change one’s emotional state and self-perception. This can be a foundational lesson in emotional intelligence.

Practice Makes Perfect

Encourage your teen to practice positive self-talk daily. You could start a routine where you both share three positive things about your day or yourselves before bedtime or during dinner. This not only strengthens the habit but also makes it a shared activity that can help normalize positive self-reflections.

Challenge Negative Thoughts

Teach your teen to challenge and reframe their negative thoughts. For instance, if they say, “I’m terrible at math,” guide them to rephrase it to, “Math is challenging for me, but I’m working on improving every day.” This helps shift the focus from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, emphasizing effort and progress.

Encourage Journaling

Writing can be a powerful tool for self-reflection and changing thought patterns. Encourage your teen to keep a journal where they can write down their thoughts and feelings. This can help them become more aware of their self-talk and the frequency of negative versus positive messages.

Real-Life Application of Self-Talk

Helping teens understand the importance of self-talk is one thing, but showing them how to apply it in their everyday lives can truly make the difference. Here are some scenarios where positive self-talk can be particularly effective:

Academic Challenges

When facing a difficult subject or a daunting project, teens can employ positive self-talk to boost their confidence and improve their focus. Instead of thinking, “I’m bad at this subject,” they can tell themselves, “I’m capable of learning difficult things.” This shifts their mindset from defeat to determination, encouraging them to approach the task with a problem-solving attitude.

Social Situations

Social interactions can be a source of anxiety for many teens. Positive self-talk can help them manage these feelings and build social confidence. For instance, before attending a social event, they might practice saying, “I am friendly and others enjoy my company,” to set a positive expectation and reduce anxiety.

Personal Goals

Whether it’s sports, arts, or any personal hobby, positive self-talk can play a crucial role in pushing through limitations and setbacks. Encouraging phrases like, “I improve every time I practice,” can motivate teens to continue working towards their goals even when progress feels slow.

Handling Criticism

Learning to handle criticism constructively is vital. Teens can use positive self-talk to process feedback without damaging their self-esteem. Instead of internalizing negative comments, they can remind themselves, “Feedback helps me grow, and I can use it to get better.”

Encouraging a Routine of Reflection

Establishing a routine where teens reflect on their day and consciously practice positive self-talk can help make this behavior a natural part of their thought process. This could be a nightly reflection on what went well, what they learned, or how they successfully used positive self-talk during the day.

Conclusion: Shea Hillenbrand’s Impactful Message

Reflecting on my enlightening conversation with Shea Hillenbrand, it’s clear that the principles of positive self-talk not only apply to the world of professional sports but also resonate deeply with the challenges and triumphs of teenage development. Shea’s dedication to using his platform to inspire and educate others, particularly young people, underscores the transformative power of turning personal experiences, even mistakes, into lessons.

Shea’s Lasting Influence

Shea’s journey is a powerful reminder that our words and thoughts shape our realities. By choosing to focus on positive narratives, we empower ourselves to face life’s challenges with strength and optimism. For teens, learning this skill early on can equip them with the tools necessary to navigate their formative years with confidence and resilience.

Encouraging Your Teen

As we wrap up this discussion, I encourage all parents and guardians to engage actively in conversations about self-talk with their teens. Practice the strategies discussed, and model positive self-talk in your daily interactions. Remember, the goal is not to avoid all negative thoughts but to learn to counterbalance them with empowering, positive ones.

Parting Thoughts

Shea Hillenbrand’s stories, filled with both humor and wisdom, serve as a vivid illustration of how mastering the art of positive self-talk can lead to personal growth and success. Let’s take these insights to heart and foster an environment where our teens can thrive, guided by the strength of their own supportive words.

Thank you for joining me on this journey, and here’s to nurturing a generation of resilient and positive thinkers, inspired by the likes of Shea Hillenbrand.

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