may do the trick. (5) Maybe you can just make a firm commitment to
yourself to give it a good try and see what you can do.
If the internal critic is disrupting your efforts, try Gallwey's suggestions in the next step.
Don't say foolish things to yourself, like "I can do anything if I try"
or "I will make all 'A's' (if you have been a C and B student)." Keep
your optimism within reason. If you are a beginning tennis student,
don't aim to win a tournament at the end of the summer. How about
after three years (if you practice hard)?
Experiments clearly indicate that expectations (our own and
others') influence our performance; this is called a "self-fulfilling
prophesy." So, a new, honest expectation of gradual improvement
should encourage practice and facilitate improvement (see next
The "flow" concept is not based on the idea of an internal critic. It
simply says that to be interesting an activity (our work) must utilize
our abilities. Too easy a job is boring. Too difficult a job is stressful.
When an activity matches our capabilities we are interested, absorbed,
and entertained, which is flow. Thus, tennis is best when we are
playing someone our equal and doing our best. An exciting career is
neither too easy nor too hard for us, permitting us to use all our
abilities and when we do, we do a fantastic job. Since we will be
getting more able with experience, our jobs need to be made more
difficult at the same time. If a job becomes stressful, it needs to be re-
defined (in your mind) so it is do-able. Then with abilities equaling the
demands, we are "grooving" or in "flow."
STEP THREE: With an optimistic or open-minded or non-critical
attitude, prepare well and try to do your best.
After adopting a new attitude or gaining new skills and preparing,
undertake an objective test of your ability. Compare your performance
with prior performances. If you are able to do better than before, it
has to be due to greater effort, a better attitude, or more skill. You
didn't grow more innate ability! Keep on improving by using failure as
a signal that you need to try harder (but do that without using
If your performance in any area is hampered by self-criticism or a
defeatist attitude, try Gallwey's suggestions: (1) concentrate on the
activity (say tennis or doing a lab exercise or selling a product), watch
the ball (or customer), learn to 'love' it. (2) Trust yourself, don't