What is PMA and how do you develop it?

Before we start this blog, lets just look at a few things.

Nobody is born with a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA). A PMA is a skill. Its a learned process. Like any skill it takes practice, and hours of development. The good thing with developing a PMA, is that is constant, and you will only ever get better at it the more time you dedicate to it.

So how do I know if I have a PMA or not?

Is the cup half full or half empty? I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before. Developing a PMA is recognising any negative thoughts that might appear in your mind, and dispelling them before the manifest and become destructive.

Quite simply, the best way for us to understand what’s behind positive v negative thoughts is by saying that:

Out thoughts determine our emotions which determine our behaviour or actions.

How do I recognise when my negative thoughts are creeping in?

Let’s have some fun, here’s what I want you to do:

  1. Stand up, take some deep breaths and close your eyes.
  2. Now, think of the best thing that’s ever happened to you, maybe your wedding day, winning a trophy, the birth of a child, whatever has been your happiest memory, or memories. Start to observe your physiology, how are you feeling inside? What’s you posture like? How is your breathing? You may have your eye’s closed, but you are more than likely smiling.
  3. Next, I want to think of an unpleasant thing thats happened, dont hold onto the thought for too long, just bring it into your mind and let it go. At the same time, observe the rapid change in your physiology. I can probably say that everything from you shoulders slouching, to possibily your skin tone has changed, depending on the severity of the thought.

One of the easiest ways to recognise our feelings at any given time is by our physiology, our posture, Remember, nearly 90% of our communication is non-verbal. So just by changing your physiology, your posture, your breathing, you are starting to build your PMA.

Have you ever thought to yourself “I would go to the gym today, but its too cold / i’m too tired / it’ll be too busy” And then you don’t go? That’s a perfect example of a thought becoming our behaviour – by missing a session. This is why PMA is important, in work, business, sport or life.

What if you were to say to yourself “I might be tired / cold / gym too busy, however if I go I will feel invigorated, and be improving my life” – and then you go to the gym.

The change in the thought process has changed the behaviour. Are you seeing the pattern now?

The only limits that exist are in our thinking. Good workouts begin with good work ethic. Get up and go do it you’ll feel better for it!

Negative thinking in our minds tends to be in statements “i’m not good enough to do this today” “my life would be better if I wasnt fat”

Learning from the best athletes

Being able to manage our thoughts is a powerful tool to have. Ask any top level athlete or even business person, and they will more or less spell it out to you about the importance of PMA. They realise that the can only focus on what they can control. They also realise that in every negative situation, there is a positive outcome or opportunity for success. Its the difference that can make a difference at any level of sport, life or business.

Top level athletes display self confidence, in essence self confidence is the acceptance that there are consequences too their actions whilst performing. They accept that during there performance, they cannot control the outcome and realise that the can only focus on the job in hand.

Of course, we are talking about highly trained athletes, both mentally and physically. You only have to read quotes from top sportsmen like Muhammad Ali, Micheal Jordan, Tiger Woods, Micheal Phelps, David Beckham and many others to gain a small insight into their thinking.

So how can we develop our own PMA’s for everyday use?

Here’s a few idea’s that I’ve come up with, nothing groundbreaking, or particularly new, just simple idea’s to help you along your way:

  1. Read. Gain knowledge from people you admire in your chosen sport, or business, or who have the lifestyle you admire. Look out for their wisdom, many have turned struggles into glory by having the right attitude towards difficult circumstances.
  2. Place an A4 sheet of paper somewhere you can see it each morning and write on it these three questions:
    1. What is my outcome for today
    2. How can I achieve it?
    3. How will I know if I have achieved it?

This is a powerful tool, to use every morning. Once you are aware of what your outcome for the day is, you’ll be suprised at what results you get!!

3. Get yourself an Improvement Board.

Grab a whiteboard, a bit of paper, a flipchart – whatever is best for you and ask yourself each day the same question

“Today I am going to work hard to improve my ___________________________”

Fill it in with whatever you feel is right, it could be not having coffee all day, chocolate, or even something simple like saying hello to the man you see everyday at the station. Everyday is a new chance to improve!

4. At the end of the day, as yourself the next few questions, it can be in the bath, in your diary, in bed, or even after a training session, whatever feels best for you:

    1. What went well today?
    2. What could I do better tomorrow?
    3. Is there anything that I need to start doing tomorrow to improve?

Do your best not to dwell on your answers, and just let them flow through your mind. It really is that simple.

Any top athlete will tell you that they are constantly fighting themselves, by asking themselves questions, to be better, to get better, to be the best at what they do.They have the power of self belief, they learn to manage setbacks and mistakes, as they are after all – only human!

A PMA is a skill. Like learning to ride your first bike without stabilisers, it takes time and practice and only you can do it.

There are many, many books and podcasts (many free) on developing a PMA, if you wish to learn about it in more depth or gain more skills, and you may want to have a look at one or two. It’s your choice…


Written by…

Andrew Wiseman

Andrew Wiseman My background is originally in football, having played for various clubs in my younger days, both here and in IrelandI have also coached with clubs such as West Ham, Chelsea and Shamrock Rovers. Until this year, i held the position as a scout for a Championship team.

I began to use basic Sports Psychology, whilst coaching, and my interest grew over a period of years, and its grown into a passion working with athletes.

I like to use the techniques while competing as a Fitness Model, and used lots of techniques before placing top 5 highly in a major European Competition.

At present i am working on various Mental Performance Coaching projects, along with studying as a PT.

Follow Andrew on twitter – @mrwiseyman

5 Responses to "What is PMA and how do you develop it?"

  1. Mainser says:

    Great article.
    Not sure that you are right that PMA is not something you are born with. Think about a new born baby, does it give up when it can’t roll over, or later when trying to walk, do they give up? The answer is patently no, babies and toddlers have PMA in abundance and will never give up until they succeed – it does beg the question, what happens after that to make them lose that and how can parents help them maintain it, or as adults rediscover it? The latter of which is eloquently addressed in your blog.

  2. Gems says:

    Another great article Andrew – thought provoking. I like that you teach practical ways to acheive PMA – too many posts talk about having it but not how to get it, and keep it! I agree totally with Mainser – we are born with an abundance of PMA and in many societies it is lost along the way, and has to be re-gained. The positive aspect to this is that we DO have the innate ability to be positive – we just need to reconnect with it sometimes! When I talk about PMA I also like to encourage people to think about what they are grateful for, not just their goals. Focussing on what you HAVE, rather than want to have (or worse, don’t have) is the ultimate PMA start – its the starting block to launch from. Great work guys, thank you for sharing as always xx Gems xx

  3. andy says:

    Good point paul. My view on that would bé that a newborn child is conditioned in its first 7-9 years by external and social influences. Ie parents attitude, environment etc. In another context a PMA is not something you just pick up instantly, its a skill which needs to bé practiced for it to have a maximal impact and influence on your daily life. I understand your point, and can see which angle that you are coming from. Thanks.

  4. andy says:

    i understand your point Paul, and its valid. Children tend to be conditioned by external influences such as parents, and environment up until the ages of 7-9, its during this time they can pick up a fixed or growth mindset, as per Dr Carol Dweck, Mindset. Its a valid point though, i see where your coming from a child isnt born with a fear of flying, that fear is conditioned.

Leave a Reply