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Dear Fellow Former Players & Friends,

This week Penn State renews its football rivalry with Pitt. Pitt vs Penn State! Growing up in Jersey, there was only one place to be the day after Thanksgiving, glued to the TV waiting on Pitt/Penn State. The games were always close. Penn State beating Pitt’s best teams and vice versa. Yet seeing the story about the big game got me thinking about rivalries…and then even deeper about our rivalries or conflicts against self; the battle against our inner voice.

We have to overcome ourselves on a daily basis. There are things in our lives that challenge us. I tussle daily with self-discipline and self-denial. Eat too much, drink too much, spend too much and stress too much. I like chips and ice cream. I want it every day. My inner voice hammers me on this weakness.

As a former athlete I’m forever talking to my-self. Self-talk is something we all do. For me it sounds more like a football coach barking out orders. As you can guess my inner voice is not very calm.

My inner voice forever challenges me, but I’m human so doubt creeps in. The fight to overcome myself marches on. Stress builds. Expectations build. It never ends. We work hard and struggle to get more because we want this life to be better. The challenge is how to make your inner voice work for you and not against you. You can add stress by making the mistake of focusing your life around great expectations instead of being in the present moment.

Self-talk can turn negative quickly. Always pointing out the bad and what you’re missing instead of embracing where you are. Negative self-talk says you’re no good, and you start to believe it.

Stop yourself. Create positive slogans instead of focusing the negative. My new slogan on eating right is not about how bad certain foods are for me, but instead my inner voice now urges ‘successful’ eating. It allows me to be thoughtful before I make a bad decision. I win in the moment and the real me likes what success looks like.

What is making you sluggish today? Why do you feel a bit off? Slow yourself down. Analyze the situation, understand where certain feelings and moods are coming from.

But no matter what your voice sounds like, it can pick you up and help you get on with an industrious day. Or, it can discourage and depress you into inactivity.

Overcoming self is a game played for a lifetime. Be encouraged and don’t dwell on negative thoughts. You are disciplined and have full control of your mind.

Andre Collins

Executive Director
Professional Athletes Foundation
NFL Player 1990-1999

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