When you venture out to make your own path, your self-talk plays a critical role in either your failure or success. Let’s talk about how to use self-talk to your advantage.

Self-talk can make or break your day, ultimately the trajectory of your life. Use words to your advantage.

How Self-Talk Has Power

“Whether you believe you can, or can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford

A friend of Beyond the Rut’s once shared that he was putting together a business plan. He has the financial backers he needed for the initial capital. Those backers felt he had the skills, experience, and plan to be successful, and they spoke with their wallets. They were ready, but was he? The conversation continued and his personal doubts surfaced. He wasn’t good enough. The plan wasn’t good enough. This may all be a mistake. I’m going to fail again. I can’t pay these people back if that happens. He was ready to throw in the towel and continue with his 9-to-5 job that he hated because it was the safer thing to do.

That is when Brandon chimed in and reminded him that the biggest critic we will face will always be within ourselves. The friend snapped out of his downward spiral and began to tighten up the plan before launch.

Your self-talk can make or break your success in many facets of life. All things being equal when faced with a task at work, the inner dialogue of “I’m in over my head” leads to a different action than “I have the experience and skills to get this done.” Which inner response above do you feel will produce positive results? 

The sad truth is that most of us will talk to ourselves in a way that we would never allow someone else to do to us. What we believe in ourselves can be seen by how we speak about ourselves and to ourselves. What does your inner dialogue say about you?

Self-talk goes beyond the Saturday Night Live’s Stuart Smalley mantra of, “…and, Gosh darn it! People like me.”

It is vital we win the battle of self-talk within us so we can win in the world around us.

Types of Self-Talk

Automatic or Strategic – Thoughts just pop into your head or shoot right out of your mouth versus you intentionally think or say messages to yourself

Internal or External – Keeping thoughts internalized versus vocalizing them for anyone around you to hear

Positive or Negative (content not outcomes) – These would be phrases considered encouraging and inspirational compared to those that would be considered belittling or name-calling. The interesting thing is that this is about the content, not the outcomes. David Groggins, for example, is known for cussing himself out (negative self-talk) and harnessing that energy for a positive outcome.

Instructional/motivational – Instructional self-talk is reminding yourself of step-by-step instructions and other how-to lessons while motivational self-talk is reminding yourself of the skills and quality traits you have (The “I think/know I can” approach.)

Different types of self-talk have different purposes and outcomes it seems. Overall, motivational internal dialogue has more positive outcomes associated with it based on a 2006 study by Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, University of Thessaly.

Use Your Inner Dialogue to Your Advantage

Ultimately, it comes down to what you believe about yourself deep down inside. Biblically speaking, what is in our hearts comes out of our mouths (Matthew 15:18). That automatic self-talk may be coming from a place of how you view yourself. Fortunately, we can begin to replace the negative self-talk coming out of our mouths with positive self-talk until we begin to shift in our self-belief. That’s the real aim here.

How do you know you’ve shifted your self-belief? By your outcomes.

  • Projects get completed or launched
  • You find alignment between what you want in life and what you do in life
  • Respect for yourself goes up 
  • Confidence goes up

“When we feel powerful we feel more optimistic about ourselves and others,” Amy Cuddy, author of Presence and TED speaker.

Successful people start with what they say about themselves and their situations. They are skillful, either naturally or by training, at visualizing what success will look like for themselves. What our minds see is what we will manifest. The words we use in our positive self-talk will manifest into our beliefs of ourselves and ultimately our actions and behaviors.

Episode 2 of Beyond the Rut tackled the subject of self-talk in the following ways: 

  • How to create positive self-talk AND visualization before your sales calls
  • How self-talk is the first key to changing your attitude, posture, appearance, and confidence
  • How and when to rehearse your messaging to yourself

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” – Henry David Thoreau

5  Benefits of Positive Self-Talk

  1. Improved clarity of your current situation
  2. Confidence boost for that next (or first) step
  3. Motivation to complete (or even start) a task or project
  4. Improved sense of happiness
  5. Alignment with, and engagement of, your strengths

5 Life-Changing Ways to Take Advantage of Your Self-Talk

  1. Choose and replace your words
    “We say positive things to other people all the time, why not say those same things to ourselves?” Brandon Cunningham

“I’m not enough” becomes “I am enough. Here’s why…”
“I can’t afford this” becomes “This is how I can afford this”
“I’ll never be athletic” becomes “I’m on a journey of health and wellness”
“I don’t matter” becomes “I can make a difference, and this is how…”

See how this simple shift in vocabulary has already inspired you? Take some time to catch yourself where negative self-talk pops up, and create a new statement to replace the old. Let these new words become your creed, your mantra, your mission statement.

Recite them out loud daily if you need to establish them. If you have a morning routine, or simply want to start your day on a positive footing, consider adding affirmations to your routine. For a few minutes a day, you can shift your mindset. Check out our article on The Morning Routine That Gives You the Advantage to Succeed for the Day derived from Hal Elrod’s SAVERS format.

  1. Replace what you feed your mind
    Social media is a dangerous game. It gives us a dopamine fix by giving us a thing with every swipe and tap we make. On the other hand, exposure to a comparison game could lead to feeling inadequate or not-as-good-as-that-person. Set boundaries for your social media fix, and stick to them.

    We spend a lot of time-consuming media and messaging that consists of other people’s dreams. Taking time to visualize your own future through quiet time, journaling, meditation, prayer, etc., is not a waste of time. It’s an opportunity to feed your own agenda into your mind. This time alone sets your priorities in your life over someone else’s priorities.
  2. Visualize success
    Jerry used to have a doom-and-gloom perspective on his finances. Old phrases like “I’ll never get out of debt” were replaced by “With financial freedom, I’m able to travel with my wife around the world and experience life from different cultural perspectives.”

    His outlook on future possibilities shifted because he allowed himself to dream without limitations fueled by new positive self-talk. There was no “Yeah, but…” to shoot down his daydreaming buzz.

    Since starting this journey many years ago, Jerry’s salary has quadrupled, his career is aligned with his talents and strengths, and he and his wife have already enjoyed three vacations in their first year as empty nesters while also eradicating over $100,000 in debt. Freedom and success start within the mind.

    The Blue Angels are the United States Navy premiere show squadron known for their precision in performing dangerous and exhilarating air stunts at high speed. They go through a daily briefing and visualization exercise to get their minds right. Take a moment to watch their exercise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlAPamTbryg

Successful people make time to visualize a successful future.

  1. Decide daily to believe your new self-talk
    Changing your self-talk from negative to positive may give you a short-term boost for the moment or the day. Ultimately, it needs to become a part of your belief system. In fact, your new words mean nothing unless you believe them to be true.

    Shawn Albright says in Episode 2 of Beyond the Rut Podcast that what you say in your affirmations needs to be true. Jerry’s take: You need to believe in what you are telling yourself. This is not from a fake-it-until-you-make-it system of belief, but a direct tie into his beliefs as a Christian the most fundamental one in fact. One’s belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is not predicated on a class completed, a certification that we are able to recite certain verses from the Bible, but a belief that we are separated from God because of sin, and that Jesus Christ was the sacrifice that restored our connection to God (John 11:40, Mark 11:24, John 3:12, 1 Corinthians 15:2). Belief is the fundamental secret to success here.
  2. Do what you say about yourself
    There’s no point in talking the talk unless you actually walk the walk. You’ve taken the time to change your internal dialogue, and solidify your new belief by taking action. Action creates clarity according to Kary Oberbrunner. “I can succeed in this thing” may need to be backed by learning a new skill. Go learn that skill with confidence, because you have the clarity of knowing how you want to apply that new skill.

    Amateurs practice until they get something right. Professional practice until they can’t get it wrong. Put in the time, give yourself the grace to make mistakes, and move forward confident that you will reach your desired outcome by living a new life beyond the rut.

Design the life you want to live.

Download a free copy of Measure It to Make It, a workbook that will guide you through identifying your values, dream life, strategic and moral guardrails, and create action steps to achieve a life beyond the rut.

Episode Credits

Hosted by Brandon Cunningham and Shawn Albright

Produced by Jerry Dugan

5 Life-Changing Ways to Take Advantage of Your Self-Talk – BtR 002

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