The power of self-talk
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- Michael Grose
Your self-talk can be your greatest ally or your worst enemy. You can talk yourself up or just as easily talk yourself down.
You can talk yourself into doing wonderful things, attempting fabulous goals and. In fact, you can talk yourself into all sorts of accomplishments. You can just as easily talk yourself out of trying new activities, or activities were failure is an option.
You can succumb to that voice that says “NO”, just as easily as you can be spurred on by that voice that says, “YES, YOU CAN DO THIS!”
Self-talk by itself achieves nothing. You can talk yourself up all you like but you won’t achieve anything until you take some action. However, most action, whether it moves you toward a goal or something positive, or way from a goal, is preceded by some type of self-talk.
Most of us are unaware of that little voice that chatters incessantly in our heads directing our daily activities, in much the same way as a traffic cop, on a busy intersection directs traffic, sending some cars through while holding up others. Our self-talk is like the traffic cop at a busy intersection, sending some cars through, while holding others up. Sometimes our good intentions are held up by our negative self-talk, and before long we get nowhere.
Introduce children to the notion of self-talk.
Get them to listen to that the little voice in their heads that says they can or can’t do things. Any easy way to do this is to ask kids to stand in front of a mirror and listen to the voice in that speaks to them.
Optimistic kids use different self-talk than pessimists. Confident, optimistic kids talk themselves up, and give themselves messages in line with their abilities. Low confidence kids and pessimist use a great deal of negative self-talk and talk themselves out of doing things.
Negative self-talk becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When asked to give a talk at school low confidence child is likely to think: “I’m no good at giving talks. I’ll only mess it up. Kids will laugh at me.” This becomes their default mechanism. Alternatively, the self-talk of a confident child is more like, “Giving talks is hard. But I’ll do okay at it.” Or “Wow! I’m great at talks. I can’t wait!” Kids’ self-talk will determine their attitude and also how they approach the activity.
Get kids to listen to their self-talk and help them work out alternative messages that they can use if they are self-defeating or negative. They can repeat positive or more helpful messages before they approach a situation that causes them anxiety. Encourage kids to write out positive self-talk messages that help them think more confidently about risk-taking situations so that the messages are reinforced.
The pessimist can change his response.
Kids don’t have to think in negative ways. One way to change self-defeating self- talk is to give kids some alternative ideas and statements. While their first thought may be self-defeating they can change the voice in their heads, but they must have some alternative, realistic statements that they can use as replacements. Parents can help kids choose realistic yet positive thought processes.
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