Improve Your Self-Talk

“Self talk is the most powerful form of communication because it either empowers you or it defeats you.”

There’s a voice that tends to get listened to more than all of the other voices in our lives.  That voice lives inside our own heads.  There will be times when it is our biggest cheerleader, and it pumps us full of energy and motivation.  There will also be times when it is the most negative and defeating voice, sabotaging our best efforts with just a few words.  How can we know when to listen to that voice and when to turn the volume down, or maybe even off?

Some times that voice you are listening to is so familiar that you are lost as to how to adjust what you are telling yourself.  It feels like a broken record that keeps repeating the same defeating message over and over again.  Some tools that have proven to be helpful are:

Is it true?

As you are listening to that voice in your head, try taking a critical perspective of it.  Slow down and listen to the words you are telling yourself.  Are they true?  If so, then it is time to grab on to those thoughts and let them motivate you to either make change in your life, or to continue on that route.  If they are lies or words that are not actually true about who you are and what you are capable of, then maybe it is time to change the channel. 

Change the perspective

There are a number of researchers that say it is important to change your inner voice so that it is in second-person instead of first. Instead of asking “why am I so stressed out?,” change the wording to “why are you so stressed out?”.  Ethan Kross and his team found that this approach helped people perform better, experience less negative feelings and shame, and engage in less processing of an event after it was done.

Tell yourself what to do

Identify what you are going to do well can help you to achieve what it is you are wanting to do.  This can be anything from “keep your shoulders back," or “hold your left arm straight," to “you are going to succeed” or “you are going to hold in your emotions as you talk to your boss”.

Be kind

As you listen to that voice in your head, ask yourself if you would be saying those things to a friend.  No?  Then change the wording accordingly.  Talk to yourself with as much compassion and encouragement as you would a friend.  Change the wording from “I can’t do this” to “you’ve got this…I believe in you."  “I don’t know what to say” can be changed to “You can do this.  Remember to smile, and keep your questions simple and straight to the point.”

Find some support

Who are the people that are supporting you?  Identify some people in your life that already think and talk in a positive way.  Start hanging out with them more often.  Their influence and perspective can start rubbing off on you and help you to change the way that you walk to yourself.

When you begin to take hold of your inner voice and change the wording from defeating to empowering, you will be better able to meet adversity and challenges and do things that will contribute to greater success in many areas of your life.