So I Said to Myself…

You know you talk to yourself, right? Don’t worry about it – everyone talks to themselves. However, I’m continually astonished at the degree to which our self-talk — that internal monologue that runs pretty much continuously inside our heads — becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Walk into an interview saying to yourself, “I bet I’m going to blow this…they’re going to hate me,” and – voila – you blow it and they hate you. While leading a project team, if your internal mantra is “We can’t do this…we’ll never be able to do this”; odds are, you’re right.

As I observe this dynamic (not only in others, but in myself), I see the power of our belief in these negative assessments. We say we can’t, we believe it, and it affects our actions and our emotions in ways that lead to the bad outcomes we predict. For instance, in the interview where we predict failure for ourselves, our belief in that interior message causes us to behave in a stiff and clumsy way; to blank out when asked questions; to respond defensively…and we don’t get the job.

Unfortunately, the opposite isn’t always true: super-positive self-talk doesn’t necessarily yield good outcomes. Most of us have watched with a mixture of bemusement and pity as delusional American Idol contestants with no discernable talent confidently declare their imminent stardom.

In this, as in most things, the most effective approach seems to be the middle path. If you can revise your self-talk simply to be as accurate as possible, that seems to work best. For instance, in the interview situation, you might counter your I’m-going-to-blow-it self-talk by saying to yourself instead, “Being interviewed is nerve-wracking, and I’m nervous. But I know I’m qualified for this job, and I believe I’d be a good fit for the company. I’ll do my best to stay calm and open, and to present my strengths well. That’s all I can do.”

Try it and see how it works: let me know…

Posted in learning

About Erika Andersen

Over the past 30 years, Erika has developed a reputation for creating approaches to learning and business-building that are custom tailored to her clients’ challenges, goals, and culture.

Visit Erika's Blog

Latest tweets

  • Loading tweets...

Be Bad First

Get Good at Things FAST to Stay Ready for the Future
Learn More...

Leading So People Will Follow

Proven leadership framework that creates loyalty, commitment and results.
Learn More...

Being Strategic

Plan for Success; Out-think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change
Learn More...

Growing Great Employees

Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers
Learn More...