The 'Right' Way to Do Self-Talk (that you're probably doing wrong)
by Robin Sacks
The phrase "positive self-talk" drives me up a wall!
Understand that I say that, not only as a ridiculously positive person myself, but also as a coach who often trains others on the phenomenal power of self-talk.
The term "positive self-talk" irks me for two reasons; one, like so many intricate things, it simplifies self-talk to either 'positive' or 'negative'...and it's so much more than that. The second reason is that the term itself is simply wrong. It would be more accurate to call it "honest self-talk."
Now, all of the pessimists reading this probably just disagreed and are currently spouting off in their own heads about being "realists" and how positivity is not 'honest,' but rather 'Pollyanna-ish.'
Guest what? They're helping to make my point for me.
I am not suggesting that 'positive' or 'negative' self-talk is better or worse than the other. That would be ridiculous. What I am suggesting is that your self-talk needs to be what it needs to be to best serve you in that moment.
How do I do that, you might ask? Here's the easiest way to start - begin to talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend.
When we 'talk' to ourselves, we are typically critical. It's easy to become over-critical, and simply become a bully in your own head. However, we would never talk to a friend the same way we talk to ourselves!
Think about it. Let's say there's a difficult conversation you need to have, and the phone call might become a little stressful. You might tell yourself that the person you're calling is going to be mad or walk all over you, and that you're not going to get anything accomplished. You remind yourself that it's always what happens and it probably won't be different this time.
In other words, you remind yourself that there is nothing you can do about it and so you might as well not even try because it's so much easier to just take it.
Now, let's imagine that a friend of yours has that phone call to make, and you hear them saying to themselves the things you said to yourself above. You would not listen to them say those things and simply agree with them, would you? Probably not. You would stop them in their tracks! You would tell them that they need to 'buck up' and take more control. You would remind them that they have a valid point and, if someone tries to walk all over them, they need to stand up and get tough, believe in themselves, and make their point with confidence.
Imagine if you talked to yourself that way more often.
That voice in your head is YOU. That means that YOU can change it. YOU can rewrite the script. YOU can tell that voice that it needs to shut up and go sit in the corner sometimes.
I encourage you to drop the idea of "positive" or "negative" self-talk and instead, think about it as simply a coach in your head who has your back! A coach who is always there with you, who always has YOU in their best interest, and who will say things that motivate you and build you up so that you can take action and do what you need to do.
When you do this, you get in the habit of making your self-talk serve you, and that is a habit that can take you anywhere you want to go.