Adapt your vocabulary using self-talk to neutralize debilitating negative thoughts.
Let’s take a step back to your last successful moment. A time when you accomplished what you set out to achieve. Where did you attribute your success? Did you consider yourself Lucky? Or did you recognize the hard work you did?
What about the last time you failed? Were you unlucky, unprepared or did you lack skills?
Whether with success or failure, we have the opportunities to improve our momentum by giving ourselves the necessary self-talk to grow. Self-talk is known as, cognitive self-regulation, or the internal dialogue we have with ourselves about how we are doing, how we are processing our environment, and performance judgments.
Success and failure are parts of life, in and out of the workplace, we do not always have control over them, but we do have control over our attitude and our thoughts. Add a small amount of purposeful non-judgment and you have a recipe for resilience and momentum.
Influencing our thoughts is not always an easy task. Recognizing that our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors all impact each other is a great starting point. The next steps are using a few simple tools to guide our minds away from negative demobilizing thoughts.
Tool #1 Thought Journal
Before we can help stop ourselves from decreasing our performance ability, we must recognize the thoughts that create limitations. A thought journal is a visual tool that maps how our thoughts are tied to events in our lives.
Using a thought journal is straightforward, it does not take very long, and it is not a skill that takes years to develop. Think back to your most recent meeting or presentation and create a timeline of the events that stood out most to you. The more personally relevant the information you write down, the better! After you have completed your timeline, use another color pen to map your thoughts to the corresponding events.
After gaining an awareness of our thoughts our ability to impact them improves.
Tool #2 Self-Talk and Cognitive Restructuring
Self-Talk is our internal dialogue or the conversations we have with ourselves about our environment. Cognitive restructuring is the process of reframing our attitude toward our environment to facilitate opportunities for growth.
Practicing self-talk is something we natural do, however, to facilitate change in ourselves we must direct our self-talk to the task at hand. Directing this internal dialogue has potential benefits for motivation, skill acquisition and impacting anxiety.
Self- Talk Examples:
Motivational – “This is my moment.”
Skill acquisition – “Bounce, hit, bounce, hit.”
Anxiety – “I prepared for this, just follow the routine.”
When negative thoughts enter you mind, ask yourself “would I say this to my significant other, my kids, or my parents”? If the answer is no, then we should not be saying it to ourselves either.
The final step is to focus on how we structure our thoughts. If you have a presentation coming up, imagine it as an opportunity to receive feedback; a chance to get better.
Cognitive restructuring is not just positive thinking; it is a way of seeing our world differently. If we can see the opportunities for growth in every challenge, we will be growing at every opportunity.
It is not easy to change the way we think, it takes effort, reflection, and feedback. If you desire growth, it will require deliberate work and practice. People who put in the hard work see the benefits internally and expanded to the people around them.