You may not know it, but when you dwell on negative memories or a bad outlook, you engage in self-talk. What is it and how do you change it?
Are you having negative thoughts about your work or career? You may not know it, but when you dwell on negative memories or a bad outlook on your future, you engage in self-talk.
If you’ve ever thought that your education was a waste of time or you feel stressed that you haven’t landed your dream job yet, then your thoughts might be getting you down. You might feel down or lack confidence because of those negative thoughts.
Let’s take some time to look at self-talk and how it can bring awareness to your habits. Below, you’ll learn how to identify self-talk and how it can hold you back. But you’ll also learn how to use self-talk to your advantage – both at home and at work.
What is self-talk?
Self-talk is an inner dialogue in your mind. It’s the voice inside your head that often dwells in the past and keeps your mind focused on fear, stress or anxiety.
Ekhart Tolle, a leading author and thinker in this field of study says that there are actually two versions of your self in your head.
- The first version is the one that nags you – often about your anxieties and fears.
- The second version is the deeper sense of your own self – your consciousness.
Tolle says that you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts can bring you down. But there is a version of you within your mind that’s distinct from the one that only focuses on unhappiness and anxiety. Your job is to separate the two versions and bring the positive one to the forefront of your consciousness.
Can self-talk be negative and positive?
The concept of self-talk sounds grim and uncontrollable. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be. That’s because it can be positive too if you know how to unlock it.
While Tolle views self-talk as a negative force in our lives, he does admit there’s a silver lining: the realisation that there are two selves in our mind means that we can overcome the negative dialogue in our heads. That realisation can bring fearlessness and passion to our lives.
“Thinking can be a powerful and wonderful tool. It only becomes an affliction if we derive our sense of who we are from this dream of thought” – Eckhart Tolle
Bruce Pulver, the author, speaker and career advice guru focuses on the hugely positive impact that self-talk and words can have on your personal life and your career trajectory.
Powerful, happy and inspirational words can boost your outlook. When you’re down or have to overcome obstacles, focusing on words like STRONG and GREAT are good ways to get out of a rut, says Pulver.
On top of that, you can interpret words positively so they have lasting impacts. Words that normally have a negative connotation, like FEAR, can actually be interpreted positively.
For example, you can think of fear as something that holds you back because you’re afraid to fail. But you can also think of it as the rocket fuel for your energy and resilience. Fear can empower you to overcome your obstacles. The same word, spun in different ways, can have a huge impact on your inner dialogue. Sometimes it’s hard to identify self-talk, and you might need help from someone, for example a friend or a life coach.
Tips and tricks for using self-talk to your advantage
To welcome a more nonjudgmental space into your life, here are some things for you to try:
- Bring awareness to your self-talk. Many of us don’t realise the impact and emotional baggage that negative self-talk can have on our careers and personal lives.
- Live in the present moment. Doing so can reduce the negativity because it silences the self-talking critic in your head. Take the example of your morning shower – instead of thinking about the drive to work or getting the kids ready for school, try to simply feel the water and stay in a warm and relaxing moment.
- Don’t worry about the past. Worrying about your past is as bad as giving in to your inner critic’s negative outlook. Worrying about that time you accidentally spilt coffee on your boss isn’t going to advance your career. Chances are, taking action through an apology and laughing about the whole situation can help you – and your boss – forget about it entirely. Then, you can move on to thinking more constructive thoughts that can actually impact your life at work.
- Surround yourself with inspiration. Inspiration can come from many things – books, colleagues, music and so much more. Adding these things to your life can help drown out the negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.
- Be active. One of the complete opposite things you can do to living in your own head is to get out there and experience life in a practical way. By doing things rather than wishing for things to happen, you can ground yourself in the present moment. Instead of stressing for six nights in a row about applying for that senior position at your company, actually do it! What’s there to lose?
- Practice using positive words in your speech. Try using positive words (in your mind and aloud) rather than relying on the negative ones. The positivity you verbalise can be contagious to those around you, leading to a positive workplace culture and better relationships with clients or colleagues.
- Be diligent. The old adage says that practice makes perfect. The same can be said for conquering your self-talk. During one big career transition, Bruce Pulver wrote inspiring mnemonics of influential words like POWER and CONFIDENCE. He did it every day for over a year. Maybe you don’t need that level of diligence, but it doesn’t hurt to try positive thinking for thirty days. You might just build some new habits for yourself!
Next steps and navigating your career
It’s important to use what you learn about self-talk in practical ways to positively impact your career. Always try to be realistic about how you think of your future. Positive self-talk can be an important influence but it can also lead to illusion.
Try to stay away from the trap of convincing yourself that all your wildest dreams can come true. You can’t become a celebrity with a billion-dollar brand overnight. But you can set manageable and realistic aspirations and empower yourself to achieve your goals through control of your self-talk.
Eckhart Tolle explains that you just have to find a balance between thinking in the present and the future. Thinking about your future is a mental projection. You can project happiness in your future but you also have to find a balance between the real moments in your life and the psychological ones that exist only in your mind.
By bringing awareness to your self-talk, mastering your outlook and using some of the tips we included here, you’ll be well on your way to unlocking new avenues – in your personal life and in your career path.
Book a video call with one of our life coaches today to find out how you can manage self-talk better, and learn other methods for empowering yourself.