Do Positive Self-Talk The Right Way

Did you ever find yourself talking to yourself like saying: ‘Rob, stop that whining, do your job!’ or ‘Everything will be alright. You can do it!’ ? It is a natural thing that every now and then we talk to ourselves if only to make ourselves clearly think in a helpful way what we want to do or sometimes as a form of positive reaction to what’s going on in our environment.  This can be talking out loud or simply something running inside our mind.  Positive self-talk is a common way of dealing with our day-to-day challenges by turning them into a positive light.

Given its positive benefit to inspire oneself, it is not so difficult to develop this habit.  However, even before we became conscious of making these positive self-talk, we may already have developed self-talk in our unconscious mind.   Hence, such a habit may just be simply left to itself without the conscious effort of making it effective. Have you ever realized whether your positive self-talk works for you?

Positive self-talk can come in different forms. Though it may seem trivial to classify self-talk from different methods, recent report by Scientific American revealed that these different forms yield different results and therefore if not properly utilized, may not succeed.  The study by University of Thessaly identified these two forms of self-talk doing the test on sports motivation.  This, however can also be applied in our daily circumstances:

Motivational self-talk for endurance type of sports.  Sports like running for example, require simple inspirational reminder such as ‘Go one more mile, you can make it’. In our daily lives, perhaps this is the more common way to motivate us. ‘This shall pass’ kind of reminder when our workload was tons of load.  It spurs us to move on is spite of the odds.

Instructional self-talk for sports that require fine motor skills.  Sports like boxing for example require specific strategies and styles to defeat the opponent such as specifically attacking their weaknesses.  While perhaps a ‘go, go, go’ self-talk can help, such sport require concentration and presence of mind and therefore an appropriate ‘punch here’or ‘use your right hand’ reminder is more useful.  In practice, we also need this type of self-talk in our lives. Put in simple terms, this is the ‘just do it’ phrase in the context of the right thing to do.  If we are avoiding a certain habit, maybe it’s not just about saying ‘Smoking is bad for your health, man’.  Perhaps ‘Don’t buy the cigarette now’ or ‘Walk away’ will do. If you tend to be distracted with checking emails at work, don’t say ‘focus, focus, focus!’ but rather tell yourself ‘finish your work first, emails to check in 20 minutes’.

Applying the two forms in our daily existence and our battle to success, we need to reflect how we do self-talk in different situations. It’s not just about doing positive self-talk but doing it the right way.

Looking at it in a different perspective, the motivational self-talk can be used for situations that require a more general motivation and encouragement to continue.  The instructional self-talk can be used in situations where a reminder is needed to make specific steps to succeed.

Look back in the past week how you made a conversation with yourself.  Pick one most significant self-talk you made.  I would like to invite action-oriented readers to answer these questions and share them on the comments below.

  1. What was the situation?
  2. What did you tell yourself?
  3. Was this the right form of self-talk or is there a way to improve this?
  4. How can we do this better the next time?

By answering the above and participating in the comments section, you are putting your resolve to change into action. Congratulations!



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