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Common Mental Mistake #5: Negative Self-Talk


Most people do not realize the power of their words. Words are thoughts out-loud.  Our words are powerful, and they can build up or tear down. Unfortunately, many of us fall prey to the common mental mistake of Negative Self Talk, and may not even be aware of it. As a leader your words can inspire, motivate, and encourage; in contrast, words can bring down everyone around you. Claire Charters at MindBodyGreen says, “What you think creates how you feel, and how you feel determines how you act, and how you act ultimately attracts and creates your experiences.” How can we be effective leaders to others when we are so down on ourselves?

Sabotaged with Negative Talk

The words you speak matter. How often do you listen to yourself?  My best guess is probably not very often, if ever. Words are power, and always more then sticks and stones. As a leader, I spend time asking those I lead to watch what they say (even my own children). Things like:  “I can’t,”  “It’s too hard,” “That’s impossible,” “I wont ever be good enough” are killers to any type of training or growth.

Wether you Think you Can, or Think you Cant. You’re Right. (Henry Ford)

Negative Expectations Affect Behavior

The way you speak can be extremely influential. Have you ever heard of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? The following definition from BusinessDictionary.com states it well:

A positive or negative expectation about circumstances, events, or people that may affect a person's behavior toward them in a manner that causes those expectations to be fulfilled. 

For example: A coach expects his freshmen athlete to be uncoordinated and unskilled so he does not play them often, and when he does they are rusty and do not perform well. The negative expectations of the coach affected the athlete’s performance.

 Being a Bad Salesman       

With such negativity the athlete will never sell his most important product (himself) to his most important customer (himself). A good leader gives purpose and vision but these words won’t matter if their audience believes they can’t do what they are being asked to do. How can you help them believe?  How are you fostering a culture of belief?

Here are some things that can help:

I can only speak into what works for me. Below is a simple list of helpful examples to combat Negative Self Talk:

1.     Surround yourself with positive people. Have a good friend to call to be lifted up.

2.     Wake up each morning and read wisdom. I like reading a Psalm and Proverb from the Bible.

3.     Make a list of joyful words and say them to others today.

4.     Stop, breathe, and ask for help. I like to Pray (sometimes a lot).

5.     When you are down, talk about what you are grateful for.

6.     Reevaluate your schedule and stress levels (make an Ideal Week and/or Purpose Statement).

7.     Laugh or find humor in life.

8.     Focus on truth, not the lies in your own head. Write them down.

“The Greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” – Dr. William James (1842-1910)

What are some examples of Negative Self Talk in your own life? What do you often say to yourself? What do you do when you are practicing this common mental mistake?

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