Creating a Mental Skills Plan Part 2

Raising Awareness and training the Inner Dialogue (often critic!) in 4 minutes a day


In part 1 you identified the mental gaps in your mindset, what effect they have over you, and where in your life, performance or otherwise you notice these things showing up.

In part 2 we’re going to look more closely at one of the main tenants of psychology-thoughts.

How Do You Identify Where To Start Building a Plan?

We have 4 aspects of experience that we can always be in control of no matter what situation we find ourselves in-high stakes performance or otherwise. Those 4 aspects are our: thoughts, actions, attitude, and effort. So let’s look at the first one from a performance psychology perspective and how you can begin to develop your own mental training.

Starting With Thoughts

We can’t choose the thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere. In mindfulness training one the first things we learn is that thoughts arise, we notice they’re there (display) and then they disappear again, (liberate). Much as if I ask you to think of a pink elephant (it arises as a thought), you might notice you’re thinking of it, and it displays itself. Then, the mind wanders on to the next thing that interests it, and that original thought of an elephant feels like it disappears (it liberates).

When we relate this idea to performance associated thought patterns it often looks like this: “I’m not good enough as I should be…” Often we don’t even consciously realise that we’re having this type of confidence crippling thought (the thought arises) and it starts to get added to with an increasingly negative inner dialogue. Eventually after often a lengthy internal dialogue we might feel low in mood or insecure and wonder ‘why do I feel like this?’ We may then realise (so it’s consciously displayed itself) the thought pattern that has got us here, and very often we interrupt the natural liberation of thoughts by continuing to feed the inner dialogue.

So, we can’t change many of our initial thoughts but we can definitely decide on, and control the extent to which we feed these stories in the mind, turning an isolated thought on a subject into thinking. There is a very distinct difference. However, from a performance psychology view point we need to first raise awareness of the initial thoughts in order to catch them at an early enough stage to redirect the attention.

Inner Dialogue

How often am I aware of my inner dialogue? And, if you are, to what extent is it, self-supporting vs self-sabotaging? 80/20 60/40 % of the time…?

Do I believe that the majority of what my thoughts are telling me about myself and my skills are facts?

Either way, you can gain the skills to 1. Let go of thoughts more routinely or 2. Nourish your inner dialogue so that it can improve, rather diminish confidence and performance.

This work takes time, no quick hacks here I’m afraid but the benefits are completely worth it.

Training this Week

Take 4 minutes a day to check-in and do a ‘noticing the unsettled mind practice’. Invite yourself to do nothing for 4 minutes, inevitably the monkey mind will move into thinking. The bell will ring every 45 seconds, when you hear the sound notice what thoughts (if any) you’re having and then return to doing nothing. Keep practising-it’s harder than you think to catch the content of the thoughts…

Follow the guidance using the recording of Noticing the Unsettled Mind on the Mindfulness Association app here.

Next week: 5 ways to continue working with thoughts to train your mind.

Once again, thanks for reading, and feel free to let me know how you get on. If you need further support with this work or where to take it next, contact me on

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