Self-talk can affect your confidence (see my blog post on confidence). It can affect your perception of others. It can greatly influence the results you deliver, the road you choose to travel, and who walks along that road with you.
When I first had the idea for my blog and my book, What Families Could Learn from Corporate America, I was excited. And yet, it took me awhile to get started on either one. Yes, I was short on time, but that wasn’t the real barrier to getting started. The real barrier was my self-talk: “I’m not sure anyone will want to read it.” Now, that may sound sad and depressing, but I didn’t say it to myself in that type of tone. It was more of a “passive” voice: “Oh Heather, you have so many things to do, why would you spend time writing something that people may not even read.” That is how negative self-talk can start—often seemingly innocent. But, if you don’t pause and check it, assess whether it’s helping or hurting you, and adjust based on where you want to go, it can become louder, more direct, and negative.
It wasn’t until I voiced my self-talk out loud to a friend that I (well, technically he) caught the potential barrier that my self-talk was putting up. His response to me was along the lines of: “Heather, who cares if no one reads it. It will be a good experience for you to write it. You’ll learn more about yourself, and your thoughts and theories will evolve. That’s the worse case scenario. Best case? Tons of people read it. Just go ahead and get started.”
I realized he had a good point. I started to change my self-talk to reflect more of my ability to write and positive experience I would get out of writing. I wrote for some time, and then finally, with more positive self-talk, decided to take a chance and publish some posts. Concurrently, over the course of a year, I was writing down thoughts for my book.
Over time, an amazing thing started to happen. My self-talk became much more friendly and encouraging. I congratulated myself for the progress I made, and for having the confidence to put stuff out there in the “blogosphere world.” I eventually got the courage and confidence to publish more posts, promote them more, and very recently, publish my book.
To me, that book is not just a book with information that I wanted to share with other working parents, but just as important, a symbol of how I’ve evolved over the past few years. It’s a reminder that, when I’m kind to myself and channel my self-talk and energy into positive desired outcomes, I can accomplish great things.
What are you saying to yourself? Here are some tips and tricks to help you positively guide your self-talk in the direction you want to go:
- Pay attention to when you talk to yourself. I suggest you carry a small notebook around (for many reasons, but in this case…) to write down the moments when self-talk occurs. There could be a pattern or certain triggers.
- Pay attention to what you are saying. In that same notebook, write down what you are saying. Is it positive or negative? Are there specific words you are repeating? Again, analyzing this will help you dive deeper into patterns and triggers (with the goal of mitigating the negative ones).
- Reflect on where you want to go and how you want to evolve. This is a much deeper exercise, and there are lots of books out there that can help you explore this (see my Recommended Reading page for a few). It is an essential step. If you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t guide yourself there.
- Write down what you would say to a friend for encouragement if s/he said s/he wanted to evolve and develop in the same way. Sometimes people are kinder to others than they are to themselves. For this reason, I suggest thinking of what you would say to another person to encourage him/her on this journey.
- Repeat the lines and phrases that you wrote down and at least once a day, say them out loud. Now, treat yourself with the same kindness and encouragement that you would a friend. Saying the words and phrases out loud help them “stick” better, and hopefully, your self-talk will start to morph into these positive phrases before you even realize it.
- Repeat the cycle often, and note if there has a been a positive change in your self-talk and in you as a person. Life changes. Circumstances change. Your sphere of influence changes. You change. Monitoring your self-talk isn’t a one-and-done effort, but rather requires constant monitoring. Plus, noticing where the effort is paying off in a positive way will motivate you to keep working on it.
What’s one kind thing you will say to yourself today?