Effective self talk

What is self talk?

Our inner voice, the voice of our mind is our self talk. We all self-talk, usually unconsciously, and it can be a subtle running commentary in our mind as we go about our daily activities.

The way we talk to ourselves affects how we feel, how we act, the choices we make and the decisions we take. when thinking, we give ourselves mental messages. Our self talk can be positive and negative. It is positive when it helps us feel optimistic and good about ourselves: when we are upbeat it lifts us and helps us perform.

Examples – “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.”

Self-talk is negative when it 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, regardless of whether they are good or bad.

Examples – “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.”

This is not to say that being positive all the time is realistic or always necessary. But it is about being aware of our self-talk and being able to control it to make it work for us.

Talking, you see, sends instructions to our brain which are important for controlling our behaviour, improving concentration levels, attention span and allowing us to focus on the task at hand. These 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, we are giving our brain a goal focus. You can equally specify the steps you have to take in order to achieve it. 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 such signals to their minds. 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 goal.

Controlling our thoughts like this is a learned ability. It involves slowing down and 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 you focus on your problem-solving process.

You are actually increasing the functioning of your brain. A good way to do this is by engaging in regular conversations with a skilled coach, who will 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 focus on improving your ability to hold different types of conversation. We help you understand better your current situation; decide what you want, and set steps to bring goals about. We support you to change behaviour, improve your focus of attention, concentrate better, and make more effective decisions.

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