“At the end of the day, at the end of the month, at the end of my life – I want to know that I contributed more than I criticized.” – Brene Brown
How we speak to ourselves has a huge effect on how we navigate our everyday lives.
And we all talk to ourselves, whether we are conscious of it or not.
“Self-talk” or “internal dialogue” provides our brains an opportunity to process experiences as they happen daily.
When our self-talk is constructive we are better at finding alternative routes, uncovering resources, and moving ourselves forward.
When self-talk is dysfunctional we are more likely to overthink, focus on thoughts of blame and shame, magnify worst-case scenarios, and get stuck in black and white thinking.
And since the things we tell ourselves can affect and drive how we feel, act and react – it’s smart to care about what is actually being said.
To improve your self-talk and leadership skills here are things to think on and steps to take as you get started.
- Understand Positivity is Not Always Positive
Toxic positivity-style self-talk is the opposite of constructive. It’s the idea that if we are not being “positive” with our thoughts, our attitudes, or what we say and do then we are doing it wrong. It is insincere, delegitimizes real feelings and hardships, and creates a vacuum for shame. Nothing good comes from a place of shame.
- Pay attention to discern, not judge
When you start to actively practice paying attention to your self-talk it becomes easier to discern which ones inspire feelings, thoughts, actions, and reactions that work for you and which ones don’t.
- Replace limiting thoughts with a wider view
Instead of narrowly focusing on our fears or threats, self-talk that addresses reality and acknowledges our feelings gives us a hill to climb on revealing a broader view of both our situation and ways to manage it.
- Focus on facts when feelings overwhelm
When our emotions intensify, we are more apt to act out in ways we will regret later. Our ability to see clearly gets distorted and leaves to chance, basing our decisions on something that “feels true” but actually isn’t. Take a breath, talk to yourself about the things you know for certain, facts about the situation that can’t be argued. Then question each one to really determine if it’s a fact, feeling, or a perception.
- Engage in “put your mask on first” style self-talk
Get in the habit of asking yourself what your needs are on a regular basis so it becomes second nature to make sure you get enough oxygen before you try to save or serve anyone else. Practicing self-talk that promotes putting your needs on a pedestal is not selfish but necessary. Try to get anywhere without a basic diet of everyday self-care and you’ll find you won’t get very far. You’ll be too focused on how exhausted you are or distracted by all the ways you don’t feel good to really bring your best self to situations as they arise.
Whether you want to improve an area of your life, are struggling through uncertainty, or find that a certain situation in your life doesn’t seem to change despite all your efforts, choosing to focus on a practice of constructive self-talk is always a good move.