The Art of Positive Self-TalkStop yelling at the movie, you ain’t never gonna change it like that. Go change the movie in the projector. You are the projector. ~David Icke
As a transformation coach, the most important challenge I face is creating change for people that is sustainable. This requires teaching them powerful but simple techniques that they can take into the real world and use to make significant progress towards living a happier life.
I like to aim for what I think of as full-contact living, which is consciously coming into direct contact with as much of life as we can. By increasing the surface area of our lives, we can fully experience the joy of it all.
Increasingly often, it seems as if we inhabit an A to B world. We are at A and need to get to B. And everything in between gets little more than a passing glance, because when we make time linear, we take a lot of the essence out of it.
We experience the two-dimensional aspect of it, but we miss the full 3-D experience.
It’s the same with our self-talk. We actually don’t even realize how much we talk to ourselves – but we do it even when we are talking to each other. We need to learn to experience it fully because it has an enormous impact on us and our lives.
To that end, I teach responsible self-talk to all my clients because it’s a simple life tweak that delivers. It’s also kind of fun. Try it the next time you’re having an argument with someone, and you’ll see what I mean.
So what is it and how can we experiment with it?
Responsible self-talk involves carefully listening to the perspective we take when we talk to ourselves. Do we tend to assume responsibility for how we are feeling – or do we “blame” our feelings on other people, events, and circumstances?
For instance, when you feel troubled by your past, you are viewing your past as something fixed and solid that is still acting upon you. This perspective is disempowering because it gives your past power over you now, in this moment. You voluntarily give it the power to trouble you.
Many of us feel, think, speak, and act with this disempowering perspective.
When we speak of the past, the only reality happening now is the way we think and feel about the past. When we realize and acknowledge that, WE CAN CHANGE IT.
That’s the power of responsible self-talk. Here is an example:
“I am troubled by my past” could be changed to “I trouble myself with my past.”
There is a world of difference between these two perspectives. The first one assumes the past has the power to affect you. The second one gives you the power to decide for yourself how it will affect you.
This is a significant distinction. This new way of putting words together makes you an active observer of – and participant in – your own experience. More importantly, it gives you the power to make your current experience whatever you choose it to be.
Remember this simple idea: your reaction to an event is as important as the event itself and how you react to an event creates the perspective. The responsibility is yours.
If you are the one who is creating the perspective, you are the one who can change that perspective. You can think, talk, act, and feel differently. People or circumstances do not do anything to you psychologically. You do everything to yourself.
Here are some more examples of changing your perspective through self-talk:
- She makes me so angry
I make myself feel angry about her
- My father makes me feel helpless
I make myself feel helpless when I am with my father
- Life is so uncertain
I make myself feel uncertain about life
- The news makes me sad
I sadden myself with the news
- Tomorrow’s meeting terrifies me
I am terrifying myself with my thoughts about tomorrow’s meeting
- Fear takes me away from my path
Because of fear, I take myself away from my path
When we take responsibility in our self-talk we speak in the present tense because the past, the present and the future can only be experienced now. In the present, all we have is our reaction to things that happened in the past. And in the present, we can only anticipate our reaction to things that may or may not happen in the future.
The actual reaction is our responsibility.
Remember, the words you use create your perspective. It’s the perspective of power – and specifically, power over your current emotions and feelings.
Will you take the power into your own hands – or give it away to things outside your control and become a victim?
I believe in the beauty of our dreams and that having a fulfilling life requires radical acts of courage. You don’t get the life you wish for – you get the life you commit to and work for. Experimenting with responsible self-talk will give you an awareness of your personal accountability, a renewed sense of responsibility—and a simple, working tool for self-empowerment.