“I know I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was”Muhammad Ali
Self-talk is an incredibly powerful psychological skill that can be used to shape our internal, sub-conscious beliefs we hold about ourselves. It is one that can instill many different positive effects on your mind – including increasing confidence, and reducing depression, anxiety and stress. The scientific-based evidence for this is clear – it is no wonder why it is a key tool of most performance psychologist’s tool box.
Words are powerful
What we say, either in the privacy of our own minds or aloud to the world, has a direct impact on ourselves and our beliefs.
Consider the following words:
How do they make you feel?
It is no surprise that in many cultures the word “death” is replaced with other softer and less direct terminology such as “passing away”.
Words are powerful.
Our internal voices
We have all experienced other the negative words of those less than supportive people we encounter in our lives. It is an uncontrollable unpleasantry of life. Whether intentional or not, we cannot make it so that we never experience other’s words that make us doubt ourselves.
We can, however, decide if this is what we tell ourselves.
And no matter who you are, if you are told the same thing day in, day out, you will eventually come to believe it.
Take my high school experience, for example. I could have agreed with those around me that I “wouldn’t last 5-minutes”. I could have told myself that. I could have grown to believe it. I could have let all the things I knew I was capable of achieving slip away from me. All because I talked myself out of it.
The opinion of others doesn’t decide who we are, it is decided by what we tell ourselves.
Four tips to optimize your self-talk
1. Use affirmations in the present tense
Unlike compliments that congratulate something or someone, affirmations centre around highlighting character strengths and behaviours.
Take for example, your visiting this page. I could compliment your taking action to create a more confident you by saying “Well done for coming here”. This statement is nice to hear, but is perhaps not going to aid us in shaping our subconscious beliefs about ourselves.
Now consider the following statement.
“It takes a lot of determination to come here”.
Did you notice any difference in your feeling when reading these statements?
This is the power of affirmation.
Affirmations focus on building our deep beliefs about our characteristics or behaviours, whereas a compliment can only scratch the surface. For this reason, affirmations in self-talk need to be spoken in the present tense.
Examples of affirmations include:
“I am strong”
“I have the determination to see this through”
“I can take on that challenge”
“I deserve to be here”
Make your affirmations personal to you. What kind of person do you want to be?
2. Make self-talk a part of your routine
Consistency is key. Beliefs aren’t something that can be completely shed overnight.
Like other behaviours, making something a part of your routine is an effective way to turn it into a habit.
Self-talk has always worked best for me first thing in the morning, but it can be done at any time. While you are waiting for the kettle to boil in the morning, or while you commute to or from work.
One the greatest things about self-talk is that it is easy to do and only takes a few moments.
By setting aside a few minutes a day to sit, clear your mind, and speak your affirmations, will ensure you consistently continue to shape your beliefs.
3. Optimize the environment
Our minds continually process our surroundings. Just as we turn the radio down in the car to try and figure out where the hell we are going, we need space to concentrate on our self-talk. We only have a limited pool of attention to draw from, after all.
A space where you can relax and arrange your thoughts works well for your daily self-talk routine. This can be anywhere and entirely depends on your preferences. For me, a quiet place where I can sit and feel relaxed works best.
In doing so, you will put your mind into the most receptive state to self-talk.
4. Overcome the inner critic
When you begin to self-talk, you will likely notice your inner critic, the one that tells us that we can’t. The one that has been there all along.
Don’t listen to it. It is the product of your internalised negative beliefs about yourself.
“This isn’t going to work”
“I’m wasting my time”
“Do you really think you can change?”
These are just some of the voices you might hear.
Ignore them and continue to use your self-talk. You will soon notice them begin to disappear.
The power of self-talk
With these four tips, you are now able to build your own self-talk practice, and tap into this psychological technique used by some of the most inspirational and successful people.
Get started today, you won’t regret believing in a more positive you.
Thanks for reading.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below, and don’t forget to follow.