What we say to ourselves has a direct impact on what we think about ourselves. Talking to yourself in the right language will have a direct impact on how successful you will be in accomplishing difficult tasks. Elizabeth Bernstein’s article in the Wall Street Journal on self-talk supports the notion that what we say to ourselves will help us perform better in competitions, interviews, public speaking events, and even has more success in dating.
How Self-Talk Works
In Elizabeth Bernstein’s interview with Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, associate professor at the University of Thessaly in Greece who has studied the impact of self-talk on athletic performance, he states that motivational self talk such as “you can do this” leads to the correct reaction. This kind of instructional self talk can be very beneficial for learning a new task. Before a speech, someone might say to oneself, “speak slower and make eye contact”. He also mentions to be short, precise and consistent. You instruct yourself until it almost become automatic.
Bernstein also refers to a series of studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that examined how one addresses oneself being also significant. Using non-first person pronouns or one’s own name was more effective than using “I”. So before giving a speech saying, “Barbara speak slow and give eye contact” is more effective than saying “I will speak slower and give them eye contact.”
Apply Self-Talk to Changing Habits
So take this a step further. Making lifestyle changes also requires a series of new tasks. If you are starting an exercise routine which involves getting up earlier and you really want to press the snooze alarm, you could try saying to yourself: “You will get out of bed and exercise”. Non-first person pronoun, short and concise. When you are reaching for a cookie or bag of chips and you are trying to eat healthier, say to yourself: “Barbara, eat an apple instead”. When you are breaking your habit of going to McDonald’s and having a craving, say to yourself: “Barbara, this will pass, go home and make dinner.” When you are going to a party with plenty of temptation, tell yourself: “you will enjoy one dessert only”.
Why not try making your self-talk direct and with the desired outcome. Do this with every new task and see how successful you can be. That little voice inside your head needs to come out louder so you can hear it and follow its guidance!