Self-Talk, not Self-Sabotage

- how talking to yourself determines your success

Photo by: Mike Ossola — Fighter: Brandon Waters
We, all people, do a funny thing inside our heads. We say the wrong things to and about ourselves. For many, that happens constantly. For some, it happens infrequently. For a few, it happens almost never.

Those few who have mastered the art of positive self-talk are relatively easy to find because they are often famous, rich, and/or highly successful in their respective fields. You see, how we talk to ourselves is among the greatest influencers of how we experience life and how we perform when challenged. And life is challenging, especially when you’re trying to do something awesome with yours.

When you study world class athletes you learn something very quickly that separates them from the average person: How they talk, internally, about stress…

For the average person, when asked to describe how it might feel to be competing in front of the entire world against the best athletes on the planet most people would describe that as “scary.” Most people would talk, internally and externally, about how stressful that would be and they would psyche themselves out completely. Some would even be paralyzed with fear. When you ask Olympians and major league athletes and primetime entertainers what that experience is like they describe it as “exciting” and “exhilarating.” Same experience, different description. Same situation, different self-talk.

What the Olympian knows and the average person doesn’t is that how you frame your experiences inside your mind will determine how your body responds to them.

You might tell yourself how scared, incapable, and embarrassed you are to be performing in front of so many eyeballs. The Olympian might tell themselves how deserving they are of the opportunity and how it’s time to lay claim to “their” gold medal. They talk themselves up. You talk yourself down.

They win gold medals in front of millions of spectators while you sit on the couch watching them win gold medals. Those who utilize positive self-talk are empowered and energized. Those who utilize negative self-talk are crippled with fear.

Imagine if you could harness the same self-talk Olympians do. What might you accomplish? How many millions of people might you impress? Or better yet, how much better would your life be and the life of those closest to you if you were to achieve even a modest level of success?

What we know about self-talk is very straightforward… our words become our actions become us.

Put another way, how you talk to yourself will determine how you perform, which will ultimately determine the success you experience and the type of life you live. It’s really truly that simple. So how do you master this skill of positive self-talk? Simple. It’s called, Reframing…

Reframing is the art of putting old thoughts into new context. It’s the basic principle of redefining how we think about and define things. It also has a LOT to do with the words we use to describe our experiences.

For example, when you stub your toe walking through your house at night it hurts. The unsuccessful person gets mad at the chair, maybe even hits it (as if it can feel the pain you wish to inflict on it?!), and then reflects on how the world never cuts them a break and how painful life is. The successful person thinks about how the pain is temporary, how they might better arrange their furniture or perhaps install a night light or keep a flashlight handy for the next time they need to walk barefoot in the dark. They might reflect on how lucky they are to have a home with furniture and how the worst thing they had to deal with all day was stubbing their toe walking in the dark. They may even think about how grateful they are for the ability to walk upright on their own two legs and how blessed they are to be healthy enough to get out of bed and cross a dark house on their own.

Life is beautiful to the successful person and the experience of stubbing their toe gave them an opportunity to speak lovingly to themselves and express gratitude. To the unsuccessful person, stubbing their toe was the worst thing they’ve ever experienced and there’s no way it could ever get worse… until the next inconvenience happens, and it WILL DEFINITELY happen (they believe). And when it does, that’s the worst thing that could ever happen to them. And so goes the cycle of the unsuccessful mindset, destroying itself, the body it inhabits, and the success that body might accomplish.

Here’s The Magic

whether you choose to frame your experiences positively or negatively is entirely up to you. 100% your choice. You see, the only thing in life you have control of is your attitude. Period. And your attitude will determine your life experience and how successful you are in your pursuits. Fret not, my negative friend, because you too can harness the power of the successful and it’s REALLY simple…

Take 2 deep breaths, slowly describe the situation to yourself, and use only positive words and tones. No sarcasm. No self-deprecation. Just love and positivity and gratitude. Just change the words you use to talk to yourself and do it for 2 straight weeks. It takes 2 weeks of disciplined practice to develop a new habit. Give yourself 2 weeks of positive self-talk and you will see a change. So too will the people around you.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~ Viktor Frankl

The only thing that matters in life is the impact we have on others.