We’re having constant conversations with ourselves everyday. We go back and forth in our minds making decisions, solving problems, and laying out plans. We also pass judgments of ourselves and others, analyze our environment, and form opinions based on these conclusions. From the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep, we have an internal dialogue that never stops. More often than not, this internal dialogue is on repeat. We’re not always fully conscious or in control of this feedback loop. Especially when we keep ourselves busy, what is going on in our minds is lost on us. When we lose track of our self talk, we end up losing control over our most powerful tool: What it is you say to yourself. Sure it’s easy to hear self-praise when we are feeling prideful in an accomplishment; but what do we say to ourselves when we’ve hit a brick wall?
Internal dialogue doesn’t have to be a continuous feedback loop that we have no control over. When we feel incompetent, or have failed in an accomplishment, we are quick to self-deprecate. When we are on top of our game, and feeling like we’re coming out on top, we are quick to boast in our minds. For many of us, it’s easy to encourage others when they are struggling. Why is it so difficult for us to have encouraging self talk when we, ourselves, are struggling? I truly don’t have an answer as to why, but I can show you how to take control of this inner dialogue.
The first step is to start becoming aware of what it is you’re saying to yourself. If you have the resources nearby, write down some of the thoughts running through your mind both when you are flowing through life and when you’re dragging along. What differences do you see in your self talk when you’re happy, as opposed to when you’re sad or angry? When you’re happy and accomplished, do you give all the credit to yourself? When you’re angry or sad, do you blame others for your predicament? The key isn’t to change that internal dialogue only when you’re having a complicated relationship with life, but also when the good gets going.
Giving ourselves all the credit, and boasting of our accomplishments in our minds is a great way to set yourself up for failure by your own standards. When you fail to reach your goals the next time, you will be quick to compare your accomplishments with your failures. Comparison draws contrast, and you will quickly fall into the trap of talking yourself out of trying again because you “aren’t as accomplished as you thought you were”. It’s almost as if it’s this original boasting of ourselves actually causes us to feel further inadequacy when we haven’t accomplished much, or failed in doing so.
The next step, after being aware of the thoughts that pop up during these phases of life, is to change your vision of yourself when you are happy and accomplished. Instead of being quick to give yourself all the credit, stop and switch gears towards gratitude for the circumstances that brought you to that moment. Give thanks to the people in your life who helped you get there, the serendipities that fell into place, and the lessons you learned along the way. Instead of feeling prideful, know that all accomplishments, as well as failures, are fleeting. And while it’s perfectly okay to enjoy the fruits of our labor, we can turn this internal gloating down a notch. Be wary of taking all the credit when you succeed, for it will make the failures feel much more personal as well.
Alternatively, when we fail, or are close to failing, it’s important we avoid self-deprecation. It’s this very moment, of what you say to yourself, that either makes you give up, or keep going. In those moments of struggle, our self talk is what makes or breaks our ability to succeed. Therefore, in my opinion, it is MOST important to control your self talk during these moments of failure.
1. Avoid comparing your failures with your accomplishments. They truly are not as related to one another as you may think. Every day we are a new person with new problems, may it be with health, mental, family, financial – not everything is going to be perfectly balanced at the same time. Maybe it’s as simple as not getting enough sleep the last few days; or maybe it’s as complicated as a death in the family of someone dear to you. So many other factors play into our ability to work towards our goals, and separating your accomplishments from your failures can help you make that distinction.
2. Avoid talking down on yourself. You’re truly not a different person than when you succeeded before, so why be prideful one moment, and downright cruel the next? If you can interrupt that dialogue, and say to yourself, “it’s okay, I will just try again”, your will to succeed will begin outweigh the weight of failure.
3. Avoid at all costs, giving up. This very moment, of when you are just about to give up, is a result of literally talking yourself out of the will to succeed, and succumbing to the weight of failure. Everyone fails at some point. And I mean EVERYONE. Of course some fail more than others, and it’s commonly known that those who fail the most, are those who succeed the most. It’s not because they gave up, but on the contrary. They “foolishly” talked themselves into trying again; they used, not logic, but self love. Logical conclusions bring us to dead end roads – but self love makes us do things that logically don’t make sense. Failing is a way to develop that self love, so much, that you end up looking at your failures with the same enthusiasm as you do when you succeed. Strength isn’t developed when we’re on top of the world, it’s developed during the struggles we went through to get there. Every time you make a decision to keep going, even when all the odds seem against you, is a step towards greater and greater success.
In conclusion, our self talk is one of the most important tools in breaking through the weight of failure with the will to succeed. This internal dialogue will be with us until the day we are buried six-feet under, and we have to live with this “person” inside our head for as long as we live. You can either choose to make an enemy with an out of control feedback loop; or you can take control of the reigns and choose what it is you want to say to yourself. It’s not easy controlling our minds, but the rewards in doing so far outweigh years of regret – for the true failure is allowing ourselves to give up. Keep your head up; keep on loving yourself; and know deep down that developing your will to succeed through self talk, however crazy your path may seem, will be your greatest gift. Take the reigns and SHINE ON