Talk to Yourself
Mental Edge Monday
Topic #28: Talk to Yourself
In many ways, our brains are like computers. They are given input, which they process, and then provide a certain output. I have always been fascinated by this concept and the idea that we can program our own brains.
By programming, I'm not talking about studying or learning a foreign language (although these can be considered forms of programming too). I'm talking about the programming that we do every day to ourselves through our own self-talk.
Self-talk is the language that we use, both out loud and in the privacy of our own minds. It's the way we talk to ourselves. Do we encourage ourselves, doubt ourselves, question ourselves, ridicule ourselves, denigrate ourselves, or praise ourselves? What is your self-talk like?
Behavioral researchers estimate that 77% of everything we think is negative, counterproductive, and works against us. Wow! That’s quite a hurdle to overcome. I’m not saying that this is all our fault – or anyone in particular’s fault. It’s just what happens in life.
It’s estimated that in our first 18 years of life, we were told “No” or what we "could not do” more than 150,000 times. That’s like taking a computer keyboard, and typing in a code that says, “no, don’t climb on that; no, that’s too high; no, you’re not old enough; no, you can’t eat that; no, you shouldn’t say that; no, it’s too late; no, it’s too early…” 150,000 times. How is that for programming our brains? Compare that to how many times we were told, “Yes, you can do that”. The difference in numbers is staggering - by orders of magnitude.
Try to wrap your brain around this one:
“You become what you think about most. Your success or failure in anything, large or small, will depend on your programming – that is, what you accept from others, and what you say when you talk to yourself.”
I truly believe this to be true. If you have conversations with yourself that are negative or counterproductive, you are sending chemical messages to your brain reinforcing those thoughts. Those chemical messages alter how you live, perform, and interact with the world.
Similarly, if you choose to "accept" negativity of others, either directed at you or someone else, you are choosing to pump more chemical messages to your brain locking-in those thoughts.
Activity: Monitor your self-talk for the next 48-hours. How are you talking to yourself? Are you cutting yourself down, giving yourself excuses, or rationalizing your life away? Or, are you challenging yourself, praising yourself for your strong efforts, and building yourself up?
This might seem like a weird thing to do. When you wake up in the morning and smack the alarm clock and say to yourself, "Oh, crap. Monday again. I can't believe the weekend is gone already. Another week at my slaughterhouse of a job." Guess what? That counts. That must be noted as chemical message #1 to your brain. See how this works? Sounds like fun, huh?
How did you end up after 48 hours? Did you end up on the + or - side? I hope this little exercise gives you something to think about. How are you talking to yourself and is it productive? If not, turn the tables and shift your thoughts to positive, empowering, and productive thoughts - even if you have to fake it a little. The computer (your brain) can't tell the difference.
Let me know how it goes, folks? Are you a net + or net - self-talker? Were you surprised?
Until next week, Keep the Edge.
Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)