Tactics for Powerful Self-talk
The line between failure and success can come down to something as simple as your internal self-talk. Powerful and constructive self-talk can change your entire mindset, which can affect your actions. That, in turn, can have a massive impact on how successful you are on any journey you take or any obstacle you face.
What we tell ourselves, whether fact or fiction, reflects how we see ourselves in the world. In a recent study, scientists studied anorexic women as they walked through their labs — believe it or not, these ladies turned their bodies sideways upon entering doorways, as if they were overweight and couldn’t fit through the door. Imagine that! This is because the way we view ourselves — and the nature of our self-talk — can shape the entire physiology of perspective.
From a neuroscience perspective, self-talk may be considered an internal remodelling of sorts. However, to remodel our brains, we must also change specific words. For instance, instead of using the word “I,” people who use their own name when referring to themselves have better feelings of self-confidence and acceptance. It may feel awkward, but it works. For example, instead of thinking, “I really nailed that presentation at work,” try thinking, “Leslie really rocked that presentation…” In my experience, referring to yourself in the third person can have some powerful self-regulatory effects, such as stress reduction and anxiety regulation, as well as put distance between you and the situation.
But how else can you improve your self-talk?
Here are eight tips for improving self-talk to positively impact your mindset and actions:
Keep a gratitude journal. Either when you wake or before you go to bed, write down six things you’re grateful for each day. This will help you recognise and feel the positive aspects already present in your life. In shifts your focus and therefore your state of mind.
- Don’t compare yourself to others – learn to model. Isn’t it funny how we always compare up?! Comparison never leads anywhere good in your head; it only fills your mind with negative thoughts and self-doubt. Instead, we need to learn to model. Find greatness in other great people’s successes. Pick out people you admire and research and explore how and what they did. Then create that playbook in your own life. Start with small steps and then test and operate.
- Use positive images and affirmations. Add post notes around your house where you’ll see them with visual affirmations, such as inspiring images and goals. Also, add verbal hooks such as “I am good at…” or “I am special and unique because…” or “I am proud of myself for…” You might also queue up positive podcast/music/videos and watch or listen each morning or evening.
- Surround yourself with resourceful people. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” As humans, we take on the perspectives and outlook of others, so it’s important to be with people who have an upbeat mindset and practice positive self-talk. Being with positive people will bring out the best in you and they’ll also give you great, constructive feedback.
- Set and write down your mission and outcomes. Create a mission and put it down on paper, it makes it more real and easier to stick to, instead of just ideas floating around in your head. I use a daily intentions planner to keep track of my short- and long-term outcomes, and I hold myself accountable for making progress toward reaching them every single day. It even has a gratitude aspect to help me keep all of the good stuff going on in my life up front and centre!
- Exercising raises endorphins, which increases a sense of well-being and creates a better base of self-confidence. Have you ever noticed how, after working out, your mood changes for the better and you feel great the rest of the day? That’s the work of all those awesome endorphins.
- Volunteer and help others. Helping others can help you see how much you matter and how greatly you can positively impact others. Volunteering also has the additional benefit of staving off any of your own feelings of sadness and depression. It’s hard to feel sad when you’re helping others feel good, especially those worse off than yourself.
- Visualise successful things in your life. Visualise what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it. Imagine reaching your goals and how you’ll feel when you finally get there. Visualisation tactics change the wiring in your brain, as your brain doesn’t know when something you visualise is real vs. when it’s imagined. In other words, if you imagine success, your body will believe it! It will then be in better shape to become congruent and mission led.
Positive self-reflection and encouraging self-talk won’t happen overnight. These are skills that require constant practice. At first, you’ll catch yourself slipping up a lot, but learning to recognise when you’re talking down to yourself is a huge first step. It’s time you experienced more powerful self-talk.