First a quote: “Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” – Brené Brown
Please imagine yourself in the following scenario:
You are standing backstage at the front of a large auditorium brimming with people. (This scenario is pre-COVID-19 ) You feel butterflies in your stomach as you peek out from behind the curtain and see a sizable crowd including company executives, key customers, and other important people. There must be more than 300 people in the room. You feel a sense of relief that you’re not the one giving a speech today.
Standing next to you is a good friend and colleague, who is peering down at her notes, nervously doing a last-chance mental rehearsal. In less than a minute, she will step out from behind the curtain and deliver one of the most important presentations of her early career. You think it must feel like a make or break event for her. You feel comforted in the moment knowing it is not your career on the line.
Just before she steps into the spotlight, you look her in the eye and offer these words to your friend: “I don’t know why you were invited to deliver this speech; you’re not worthy of this opportunity. You are not good enough. You are not smart enough; you don’t have the education, and you certainly don’t have the required experience. The crowd is going see your shaking knees, hear your quivering voice, and know you are a fraud. What a disaster this is going to be.”
Now, of course you wouldn’t be that harsh, or anywhere near that disrespectful with someone you know and care about. (At least I hope not!!) I do wonder, however, how many of us allow that kind of disrespectful language in our own private self-talk? Are those words you might have said to yourself before giving a similar speech?
Do you ever look in the mirror and describe yourself as stupid, fat, clumsy, careless, unworthy, or something similar? My experience, as an executive coach, suggests many people battle with low self-image and often self-confidence. While not formally trained in the field of mental health, I suspect for many people a low self-image is derived, in part, from their disrespectful and often cruel self-talk.
From what I understand about research on this topic, our subconscious mind does not know the difference between the truth, and the lies we frequently tell ourselves. Said another way, our subconscious mind hears everything our conscious mind tells it. Our self-talk shapes our self-image in enormously powerful ways. Our thoughts play a huge role in shaping our self-image.
might be the one you have with yourself, about yourself.” – Bryan Yager
Let’s go back to our scenario for a moment. I suspect most people would be supportive and encouraging in the moments before a colleague was about to go on stage in a high-pressure event. I’ll wager most people would offer encouraging words like; “You can do this!” or “You’re going to do great, just be yourself” or maybe, “I can’t wait to celebrate your success at lunch tomorrow!”
Successful people, effective leaders, and pro athletes all know to use affirmative language, both with others, and with themselves. Regardless of cheering on a teammate, or looking at yourself in the mirror prior a job interview, positive thoughts and encouraging self-talk is hugely important.
Golfers imagine their swing sending their ball straight down the fairway onto the green. A doctor imagines her patient walking out of the hospital healthy and happy because of the surgery performed. Professional field goal kickers imagine the football going right between the uprights for three points from 40 yards out. Sales professionals imagine a final sale before they even make their first cold call.
Here is your leadership development assignment for this week: Write seven statements of positive affirmation (one for each day this week) for your personal use. If you’re unable to write those statements right now, do so before you turn in for the night. Then, selecting a different affirmation statement for each day, practice telling yourself that statement throughout the entire day.
When you find yourself saying negative things in your mind, about yourself, immediately replace those thoughts with one of your affirmation statements. You will be amazed at how powerful this technique can be for many. Following are a few samples for your consideration:
- I am getting better and better, every day, in every way.
- I forgive myself for the mistakes I have made in the past.
- I learn from the mistakes I have made in the past so that I can avoid repeating those mistakes in the future.
- I am encouraging of myself and others.
- I am healthy, happy, and a source of positive energy to those around me.
- I choose to be solution focused rather than problem driven.
- I choose to be respectful in my language, both to others and myself.
As always, how will you love, live, or lead differently, or better, this week?
Have a great week!!
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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- “Your body hears everything your mind says.” – Unknown
- “Don’t be a VICTIM of negative self-talk – remember YOU are listening.” – Bob Proctor
- Be very careful what you say to yourself because someone very important is listening… YOU! – John Assaraf
- “Be mindful of your self-talk, it is a conversation with the universe.” – David James
- “It’s not what we say out loud that determines our lives. It’s what we whisper to ourselves that has the most power.” – Robert T Kiyosaki
- “Self-talk is the most powerful form of communication because it either empowers you or defeats you.” – Wright Thurston
- “Relentless, repetitive self-talk is what changes our self-image.” – Denis Waitley
- “Evidence is conclusive that your self-talk has a direct bearing your performance.” – Zig Ziglar