Watch Your Self Talk!

Self talk is something you need to control if you want to manage yourself and therefore your time. Would you talk to your friend, your brother or your sister the same way you talk to yourself in your head - would you want to hang out with that person?

I'm a tennis player, I play social tennis nowdays but sometimes even social can be very competitive. Even now, after many years playing, whenever I go to serve a 2nd ball (after faulting the first) I find my internal monologue goes like this "don't double fault, don't double fault, you've always been useless at 2nd serves so don't double fault". If I had a coach yelling this to me from the sideline guess what I'd do? That's right, I'd get rid of her (or him). Why would you put up with someone who is supposed to be helping you if that is their words of encouragement.

This sort of negative self talk, particularly when you are about to embark on something (like a 2nd serve) can be our own worst enemy.

I know I can serve a 2nd ball, I've done it thousands of times, I've practiced and practiced it. I'm no psychologist so I won't dwell on the reasons why we do this to ourselves - quite possibly it's something relating to childhood, who knows.

However the outcome of this negativity is that by doing this, we are setting ourselves up to fail.

Your Internal Monologue Can Limit You

Here's another example. My daughter is learning to swim at the moment and she is getting pretty good at freestyle but hasn't practiced backstroke at all. A couple of days ago I was encouraging her to attempt a backstroke, firstly by floating and then with the arm movements. Funnily enough, 6 year olds don't have an internal monologue - everything they think comes out their mouth - here's the dialogue that we had.

"I won't be able to do it" my daughter states emphatically
"Why not?" says I
"Because I can't do it, I already know" she replies
"Have you tried it?" I question
"No, but I won't be able to do it" she says
"How do you know if you haven't even tried?" I gently ask her
"It's too hard, I can't do it" she says again

This was such a window into what was going on in her mind! I knew that I spoke like this to myself but to realise that she was doing it as well really struck me. As I do with my tennis, she's setting herself up to fail. It's no wonder that when she did attempt the backstroke (after much persuasion on my part) she floundered and then sunk!

If myself and my daughter have these negative thoughts then I would say that most others have them as well. What's important however is that we need to learn to ignore them and move past them to succeed.

Relationship to Time Management

If we want to manage our time then we need to learn to manage ourselves first and this includes especially learning to control what we say inside our heads.

Negative self talk undermines and erodes our confidence in our abilities. We start to question whether we can really deliver that big project, whether we can really live a well ordered life, whether we can really arrange our study timetable so we can succeed.

Negative thoughts are one of the reasons we end up procrastinating. We tell ourselves that we can't tackle the big task that's on our list, that it's too hard to even start. The result of all this negative talk is that it becomes easier to just not do it.

Where To From Here?

For now, I want you to take notice when your self talk is negative. Think about those situations where you can hear your inner monologue saying can't do something.

What do you do when this happens?

You could always try my tactic!

I turn those negative thoughts off, gather my courage - and I just do it!

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