If our self talk is the basis of our confidence, our self-image, what we project, and who we are, are you mindful enough of what you are saying to yourself?
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What do you say when you talk to yourself? Is your self talk uplifting, nurturing and sustaining? Or does it dwell on your mistakes, and berate your behaviour or your thinking?
Last week we spoke about the “mind chatter” in our left brain sphere. I would like to build on that today. I have learned from very personal experience how vitally important our self talk is to our attitude and also our success, given how hard I had to work to convert myself from a “glass half empty” person into the positive “good finder” attitude I carry with me today. To emphasize how this worked I will talk about a few self evident truths, as well as draw on some unusual but very powerful research.
I have learned that our self talk can be the basis of our confidence, our self image, the way we see things, what we project, our success and ultimately who we think we are. I hear you say: “is it really that simple?” Well yes, and no. Yes in the sense that no matter where you start from today, it really is that simple to start the transition, and no in the sense that it is a bit of a journey.
Like most successful outcomes there is no instant result or “free lunch”. And like most successful things it starts with a choice, and kicks off with a decision to change something, and then takes some disciplined perseverance to manifest in the outcomes we want.
I’m sure you have all heard the philosophical statement: “there but for me, go I?”
Remember last week’s left brain conversation? By saying “I can’t” (for instance juggle), it makes things easy for us to “cop out”, as we then don’t even try, so that we can’t fail. We might not realize it, but in terms of our unconscious, this simple self talk statement or thought can actually program our brain to “want to fail”, and it becomes like a self fulfilling prophecy. If we continue this form of “self conditioning”, and maybe even have it emphasized or exacerbated by others agreeing with us, it can eventually become a limiting belief. And remember that to the beholder, a belief is fact – so it’s got to be true, right?
So what if we turn that around?
What if we start teaching ourselves to practice to rather say: “what if I could?” and then have a go? Of course it will feel unfamiliar at first. But what if you persevered? Do you really think everyone that can juggle could always juggle? Some time back I wrote about Managing Your State, where I outlined how you can make this change stick.
Self talk has a massively powerful influence over us. Our unconscious doesn’t know the difference between truth and fake from our internal language. Its job is to please us and that’s what it will do, whatever we tell it. By the way, there’s a key concept. Instead of listening to our self talk – that is the little inner voice that is always chattering – we can choose to “talk over it” – to tell it what we prefer; a conscious choice action.
Some examples of self talk
I am often inspired watching top class sportspeople. For instance at the Australian Open tennis tournament, when two almost identically matched players are slogging it out. I love to see how each composes themselves immediately after having lost a point. What do you think their self talk is at that point? I’ll bet they are putting the lost point behind them and psyching themselves up for the opportunity to win the next point. Conversely in those rare moments when we see someone has “given up”, it is even visible in their body language, isn’t it? (Those of you that watched the Rugby World Club clash between Australia and England yesterday will also have seen at which point – already in the first half- when the English dropped their shoulders. Whilst they came back in the second half, after the sin-binning, you could see the lack of belief on their faces and in certain actions, couldn’t you?) At that point their self talk would have “let the winning thinking go”.
Self talk researched
One of the most fascinating pieces of research I’ve seen came from Dr. Masaru Emoto, in which the Japanese author showed how when human speech or thoughts are directed at water droplets before they are frozen, thus captured images of the resulting water crystals will be beautiful or ugly depending upon whether the words or thoughts were positive or negative. He claims this can be achieved through prayer, music or by attaching written words to a container of water. Albeit still somewhat skeptically viewed by the black and white world of science, this is well worth looking at. Its power certainly brought home to me that I better start watching my thoughts and language in terms of their impact on me and those around me. You can have a read of this at: http://www.life-enthusiast.com/twilight/research_emoto.htm
And so by adjusting our self talk, we can develop a series of “attitude and behaviour” enhancers that work for us because we choose for them to work for us. Do I ever “fall back” into my old ways? Of course I do. It’s what I call my “autopilot”, which comes about particularly when we are in an emergency situation or severely challenged. This is where we have to dig deep to retain control of our choices. And over time this becomes our new autopilot.
After a while of observing, noticing and adjusting our self talk, our thoughts and our language, we can actually start seeing differences emerging. How do I know this – because it happened to me over a period of time? How did I do it? I read from and about it and listened to others who had achieved this before me.
The key: affirmations. I developed a series of different affirmations which I honed down to those that worked exactly as I needed them to. Where did I find them? Books. One of the books I used was Shad Helmsetters: “What to say when you talk to yourself”. Another was Louise Hay’s: “You can heal your life”. If you really want to, you will find the right sources of the right affirmations for you.
I share this with you only because if I can do it, you can do it. So why not have a go? Why not:
- Set a goal to notice your self talk this week. And when it is negative or holding you back – change it. Talk over it. Take control. You aren’t your self talk unless you allow it to be.
- What also worked for me was to tell a trusted someone close to me about my goal and ask them to challenge me when they heard me verbalize negative self talk.
- Start to develop some affirmations that will help you verbalize your preferred state. Write them down. You might start just reading them to yourself. You might record them on your phone and listen to them when you have some private time. Better still; the greatest impact will come when you say them to yourself in front of a mirror. I know, I know…. not easy to do – but then how much do you want to make this change?
- Remember to reflect on how you are doing, at least weekly, also seeking feedback from others and then re-adjust.
- Finally, if all else fails and you aren’t getting the results you want fast enough – why not engage your own personal coach to help hold you accountable to what you want to achieve? I know you will be so glad you did.
I don’t mind admitting that this took years for me. Was it worth it? I would need a whole lot more time to tell you about just how worthwhile this has been for me. Suffice it to say that it has been one of the most significant changes in my life.