The Various Types of Positive Self-Talk
Episode #3 of the course Improving your self-talk by Reed Rawlings
At this point, you should have developed a base understanding of how your self-talk sounds and why it’s beneficial to work on our inner critic. Hopefully, you’ve recorded the tone and language you use, but if not, that’s fine.
Today, we’ll focus on the different types of self-talk and when to use them. Our goal is to categorize the different speech patterns that we use and better identify when we slip toward negative self-talk.
We’ll start with motivational self-talk. Think back to the last time that you faced a daunting challenge. Your brain probably did one of two things: psyched you up or psyched you out. In the face of adversity, we should always strive to pump ourselves up. There’s a significant body of research demonstrating the benefits of internal pep talks, from public speaking to playing basketball.
Motivational self-talk often sounds like, “You can do this because [X],” or, “I’m proud of you for [X].” They’re usually short, inspirational phrases focused on making you feel better.
Next is instructional self-talk. You can think of this type as a personal guide. We hear this inner voice when we’re faced with technical tasks, especially those that require focus or strategy, such as learning a new skill or playing a game.
I compare this type of self-talk to the instructions for something like IKEA furniture. It’s best for step-by-step processes, but when life throws a wrench in your plans, you can’t always rely on it.
Instructional self-talk sounds like a gentle nudge in the right direction: “All right, you’ve finished the first part. Now let’s tackle the next.”
Coping self-talk is similar to self-compassion. When we let negative self-talk take control, we often fail to acknowledge the emotions we’re feeling. Under the coping mechanism, it’s important that we name our feelings. This behavior allows us to analyze why we feel the way we do and gives ourselves the comfort that our emotions are valid but don’t dictate our life.
Coping sounds like, “I’m nervous to start my new job, but I’ve felt similarly in the past and done fine. I’m sure I will again.”
Have you ever blurted something out in a room full of silence? It probably sent your mind into overdrive. You started to question why you said anything at all, what others were thinking about you, and how this would affect you. Right now, your evaluative self-talk is probably pretty negative, but that’s something we’ll work to shift throughout this course. In the end, we’ll use this self-talk as a tool for combating our inner critic.
Our goal is to ask realistic questions that help put things in perspective.
Today, I want you to practice using motivational speech, a quick pep talk on anything you choose. The goal is to get comfortable psyching yourself up. For many people, this can be a challenging step because it feels awkward.
If you feel that way, then start extra small. Think about the meal you’ll make tonight, a simple task at work, or psyching yourself up for the gym. Here are a few phrases you can use to get started:
• “I’m proud of myself because …”
• “I can do this because …”
• “I’ll do great at this because …”
• “I’m capable of more because …”
Tomorrow, we’re going to look at negative self-talk, particularly impostor syndrome, and how it affects our mental health.
Thanks for reading!
The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
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