We all have things in our lives that we’d like to do better: exercise more, eat healthier, feel better, have more energy or a better attitude, etc. In fact, most of us have made New Year’s resolutions along these lines– “I’m going to work out 5 days per week”, “I’m going to read more”, or the countless other things we hope to accomplish or change in our lives. Yet, so often by January 15 these resolutions are nothing but a distant memory. Why is this?
There are many reasons, but two of the most common are that we set difficult goals and we don’t develop a habit of accomplishing them– life gets in the way. One technique that has worked wonders for me is ‘self-talk’. So much of what our schools, employers and broader society tells us is framed from a negative perspective: “you can’t do this”, “our policy forbids you from doing that”, etc. ‘Self-talk’ is a technique that counters the negativity and limitations that society has wired into our minds– ‘self-talk’ physically re-wires our brains to believe in ourselves to effect positive change. I became aware of the power of ‘self-talk’ when I read the book “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter upon a friend’s recommendation.
Helmstetter’s book is definitely worth a read, but if you’re not a reader or don’t have time, here’s a simple and powerful technique to see the impact of self-talk for yourself:
1) Think of some characteristic about yourself that you’d like to improve upon, or some challenging goal that you’d like to accomplish.
2) Once you’ve decided, download a voice recorder app on your phone (I use “Voice Record” on iPhone).
3) Write out a series of 8-12 statements in the present tense that support the characteristic or goal you’re targeting in step “1”. [For example, if your goal is to quit smoking, your statements should be along the lines of: “I never smoke; / Smoking is unhealthy and disgusting, and I have no desire to ever touch cigarettes again; / I treat my body well, care about my health and I no longer feel the urge to smoke;’]. Helmstetter has lots of example self-talk scripts in his book.
4) Once you’ve written your script of 8-12 statements about your goal, use the voice recorder app on your phone and record yourself reading the statements from step “3”. The ideal length of time it should take you to read your statements is 1-3 minutes.
5) Once you’ve recorded your statements, listen to them several times per day. For example, you can listen to your script a few times in the morning when brushing your teeth, combing your hair and getting dressed. Then later in the day, if you go for a walk or a short drive, this would be another opportunity to listen to your recording. It’s great if you can listen to your recording at least 6-10 times during the day, ideally spread out at a few different times during the day.
6) Keep listening to your recording at least 6-10 times per day for a few weeks. You will be amazed at your progress and the ensuing results.
Why does this work? Self-talk and listening multiple times per day to a recording of your own voice making affirmative statements literally begins to change your identity and physically re-wire your brain. Slowly but surely, your positive affirmations start to “take over” from the negative and limiting framework set down upon your mind by society at large. With positive self-talk, you take your identity into your own hands and forge the future that you want.
The beauty of this technique is how easy and effective it is. You can play your recordings in the background, and they will continue to have an effect even if you’re only subconsciously aware of them. Try it out!
Have you ever tried self-talk? Please let us know how it goes!
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