Perception Check: What Do You Say to Yourself When No One Else is Listening?

When we are kids, we believe we can do anything. As we grow up, we find out there are some things at which we do not excel. Then, as we age, we take those defeats and begin to generalize them to all kinds of new situations. Many times, as we encounter these new situations, we engage in an internal dialog – we’ll label this “self-talk. As we reflect on past failures, however, this “self-talk” can become negative in nature. And, because negative “self-talk” is automatic in many cases, it takes practice to effectively stop it.

Interrupting negative “self-talk” before it leads to self-defeating actions is something you can learn. The more you practice, the better you’ll be at turning around that mindset. Therefore, I challenge you to learn -and apply – the following three steps to replace negative “self-talk” with positive “self-talk.”

Become Aware of Negative “Self-Talk”

The first step is to recognize your internal dialogue. Without awareness, we often begin to tell ourselves all the reasons we cannot succeed. These negative thoughts might paralyze you and prevent you from trying new and rewarding things.

Label the Negative “Self-Talk”

Recognize that you are engaged in negative “self-talk”, identify, and label it as such. Know that negative “self-talk” is often not based on facts, but on our own fears. This will help you perform the third step.

Replace the Negative “Self-Talk” with Positive “Self-Talk”

To perform the third step, replace negative “self-talk” with positive “self-talk. This language should be encouraging and focused on what you need to do to perform well. It should also identify the reasons you can succeed in this activity. However, it should not be overly optimistic as to be implausible, and it should not require others’ approval.

I close by saying: It’s important and necessary to replace negative “self-talk” with positive “self-talk.” If the negative internal dialogue is not stopped, your morale, attitude, and actions can often be negatively affected. In some cases, it may even immobilize you. Imagine if your internal dialogue, which, I have been told, can occur at the rate of 500 to 600 words per minute, was positive and encouraging – Wow!! You might (or would) be able to regain that confidence of youth and actually accomplish all great the things you thought you would.