We all have conversations in our heads. It doesn’t matter whether people are dressed attractively, whether they wear lipstick, smell like cologne, whether they behave positively, whether they have (a lot of) power, whether they are younger or older, male or female, European, American, African, or Asian culture: everyone has negative and positive self-talk.
Let’s begin with this scenario: How would you feel if, at work, you had a supercritical manager looking over your shoulder all day, telling you how badly you were doing and chastising you anytime you made a mistake? Hopefully, you would have your boundaries in place sufficiently to tell your manager to stop talking that way.
However, and this is the point I want to make about self-talk: we are masters at talking or thinking negatively about ourselves. That’s what we do to ourselves when we engage in negative self-talk. If we consciously look at the way we talk to ourselves, if we pause to examine those fleeting, subtle thoughts that relentlessly beat us up, we will hear things like: “Oh, s__t, there you go again”; “You know this shouldn’t happen anymore”; “How often will you make this mistake again?”; “Shut up. Here you go again,” and “You cannot do that! etc.”
Question: How much attention have you given to becoming aware of your own self-directed put-downs that tell you that you aren’t good enough, you aren’t worthy, and that you mess up all the time, that you shouldn’t act this way, that you don’t look good, that you aren’t liked …?
What do we do about negative self-talk? It goes without saying that self-criticisms and negative judgments not only make us feel unhappy and discouraged, but they also reinforce a negative and pessimistic outlook on life and work. They become huge roadblocks to getting what we want out of life or work. Negative self-talk is the best way to undermine Personal Leadership, to defeat us before we have started.
Self-talk is very much like a self-fulfilling prophecy—people tell themselves what they expect, deep down. In other words, positive and negative thinking are both contagious.
When your self-talk is positive—such as, “I have confidence in myself,” and “I know I will do my very best in the interview,” or “I am a great colleague”—you are giving yourself permission and encouragement to succeed. Chances are, you will apply positive energy to a goal or challenge and significantly increase your likelihood of success.
When your self-talk is negative—“I know I am not smart enough to do the new job well,” or “I know I will not be able to,“ No one would want me to be their supervisor/doctor/dad/friend/partner”—you’re already giving up on yourself, and chances are you won’t even try to succeed, thereby fulfilling your negative expectations.
Truthfully, you do have control over what you say to yourself and how you react to it. And yes, it requires self-awareness. How to practically do that? If you’d like to have the answer in an introductory Personal Leadership coaching, make an appointment with us right away. Use this link.