What is self talk?
Our inner voice, the voice within our mind is often referred to as our ‘self talk’. We all self-talk, usually unconsciously, and it can provide a subtle running commentary in our mind as we go about our daily activities.
our self- talk affects how we feel, how we act, the choices we make and the decisions we take. When thinking, we give ourselves messages; our self-talk can be positive and negative. When it is positive it helps us feel optimistic and good about ourselves, which lifts us and helps us perform.
Examples of this can be: – “I really feel great when I’m wearing this outfit”, “I feel really prepared to do well in this exam.” “I’m really looking forward to taking on this new challenge.” “I place great value on taking action; I see what needs to be done and I get on and do it.”
Negative self-talk brings us down. When our inner voice is critical and harsh we can feel bad about ourselves and things going on around us. Negative self-talk puts a downer on things.
Examples of this can be: – “Why should I bother, I’ll never do it” “I don’t have the time and there is just too much work anyway” “I look awful dressed in these clothes”, “Everyone thinks I’m stupid” “It’s all crap and nothing is going to get better.”
Being positive all the time is not always realistic or always necessary. But by being aware of our self-talk, we can learn to control it and make it work for us.
Talking, you see, sends instructions to our brain which are important for controlling our behaviour, improving concentration levels, maintaining attention and allowing us to focus on the task at hand. The messages we give ourselves can help regulate decision-making, and enable better control of responses to our brain’s emotional and cognitive processes.
For example, when we state something specific that we want to achieve, we are giving our brain a goal focus. Equally we can specify the steps to take in order to achieve goals. Clear self-talk messages support this focus: “I can do this, nothing will stop me.” “I’ll move every stone to make this happen.”
Athletes, tennis players, golfers and other sports people have long been trained to send themselves such signals. They learn to visualise what success looks like, picture a particular shot they are ready to play, or see themselves breaking the tape at the end of the 100 metres. They get themselves in the appropriate mental and emotional state to achieve their goals.
Controlling our thoughts like this is a learned ability. It involves becoming consciously clear of our thinking processes as we work through a task or problem. Doing this consciously allows us to be more careful and deliberate as we focus on the problem-solving process.
This actually increases the functioning of the brain. Regular conversations with a skilled coach, enable you to train your brain so it functions effectively. And, like any other skill, the more you practice good habits, the more you reinforce them and the more permanent they then become.
The language we use is important too. Deliberately using positive and focused words helps with whatever goal or task you would like to complete. We can also learn how to use language to change minds – ours and others’ – which is a basis of changing behaviour.
At Core Communications we help people focus on improving their ability to hold different types of conversation. We provide support to help change behaviour, improve your focus of attention, concentrate better, and make more effective decisions.