One topic that gets overlooked outside of the college classroom is that of self talk. You may hear it occasionally in a coaching session or other specific setting, but self talk is seldom addressed as a type of communication.
The funny thing about self talk is that we all do it all the time, but we don’t always pay attention to what we are saying. We need to be more careful what we tell ourselves because, as the Bible says it is what gets planted in our hearts and then what’s in the heart comes out of our mouths. Then, everyone else gets to hear all the things we have told ourselves. The things others hear us say about ourselves can actually affect how they see us.
Fortunately, I have been able to expand my circle of mentors to include people who will hold me accountable to what I say. This is just a little bit of what I have learned from them.
What You See in Others
I have never believed the adage: What you hate about others are things you hate about yourself. That isn’t always true. For instance, I hate it when someone lies to me or commits adultery, but I hate those things because they are wrong and break down my trust, not because I do them. However, it is true that it is often easier to recognize things in others before we realize we do and say the same things–good or bad.
I was speaking with a friend one day, encouraging her, and thanking her for her patience as I learn and grow on this journey called life. She asked, “You don’t realize you give it, too, do you?” She told me I give the same encouragement and love to her that she does; I just don’t recognize it as often.
There is a book I really want to read, but I can’t bring myself to do so. The author spent the first several paragraphs telling readers she is not qualified to read the book. As I thumbed through the book to see if I could convince myself to read it anyway, I came across some information that I don’t agree with. This only solidified my agreement with her that she is right–she isn’t qualified to write the book. As an editor, I would never allow an author to start off a book in such a negative manner, because I know if she hadn’t, the bit of information I disagree with wouldn’t stand out as much or seem as important.
Then, a coach pointed out to me that I do the same thing; I discount the great things about myself, and all the ways I contribute to others.
I am not a fan of “affirmations.” Repeating something as a mantra is too closely related to New Agism and Hinduism, which I don’t think Christians should be involved in. However, I understand that we are constantly saying something to ourselves anyway, so why not make sure it is something positive?
An example is that the coach pointed out I often indicate, “I want to be a speaker,” but after some time with me, he saw that “I am a speaker” is more accurate. The difference between the two is quite important. Wanting to be a speaker indicates it is a hope or dream, maybe a goal. But, to say I am a speaker indicates that I know I have a voice and that I know my audience is just waiting for me. So, I say “I am a speaker,” not because saying it makes it come true, but because it is actually true.
What self talk do you need to change? Do you need to change your language? Start with eliminating “never,” “always,” “don’t,” “can’t,” and “maybe” from the things you think and say about yourself. You will see a difference in your self confidence as well as a change in the confidence others have in you.