Self-talk. That's the tiny voice inside your head. The one that's always there...that little voice you "think" you're thinking with. Have you noticed that sometimes it does you a tremendous disservice? Sometimes, your too critical voice passes judgment and takes away your hope. Hope is the critical element to your success, and you can't afford to lose it.
It's perfectly natural to lack self confidence at times. As an employee, a parent or a student (regardless of age or situation), you are constantly being judged and "graded" on your every move. Life can be daunting for us all when our confidence is low. But if you start to judge yourself too harshly too regularly, you may need to pay some special attention to what that little voice in your head has been saying. It may make a big difference in your future. Someone who lacks confidence is simply listening too often to a critical inner voice. It's a problem. However, it's not the entire problem. The problem is also how we choose to respond to these critical conversations.
If you tend to believe the pronouncements made by your inner critic, you may have less confidence. It is absolutely possible to accept the comments made by your inner critic - without believing them. You need to take charge of your inner dialogue and you will no longer be subservient to it.
Your inner voice is like a talkative child who tends to blurt out anything and everything that crosses his/her mind, whether it makes sense or not. Your inner critic, like that child, requires some training. Remember, you are in charge, not your thoughts. Choose to think differently. You are responsible for the dialog you have within yourself. Here’s how to start retraining your inner critic:
Listen and listen well
Before you can make use of your own self-talk, you’ve got to be aware of it. Monitor your inner voice and listen to what it is saying. After identifying habitual thought patterns, put them on paper. A pattern will quickly emerge and you will see a clearer picture of what you have been telling yourself on a regular basis.
What is your attitude toward YOU? If the overall message is “No, I can’t or I am 'less than,' ask yourself how long this particular tape has been playing in your head. Many old lies are served up simply out of habit. Recognizing your thought habits is the first step to breaking them. How have you responded to your negative self talk in the past? Have these responses done you any good? Do your thoughts build you up or tear you down?
Take control of the inner dialog
It’s important to recognize that you can control your inner dialog. It does not control you. If you think it does, then that is a choice you are making. To re-direct your thoughts in another direction, you must choose to do so. Replace any negative thought that is undermining your self-confidence with a positive thought.
Yes, your old thought patterns will resurface from time to time, but now you'll be able to recognize negative thinking for what it is. You can take control of your dialog. Know that self criticism is normal. Once you get in the habit of catching the negative thoughts, you can create habitually positive ones. Trust me, it gets easier as you continue in the new direction you've chosen.
Like attracts like
Thinking about your life and actions from a more positive perspective builds real self-confidence. The more positive your self talk, the more positive the results you will experience. When you stumble, and you will, simply tell yourself something like, "It’s OK. I just learned a valuable lesson. OK. I can do this now!" ...rather than the old, "Give it up you idiot. You always screw up.”
Dealing with your inner voice means accepting responsibility for your thoughts. Embracing the power of positive thinking is easier if you only take it one day (or one thought) at a time. Before you know it, you will get in the habit of catching yourself and replacing negative thoughts with positives. Don’t fight negatives that come to you naturally. Accept them, study them and replace them. It’s your choice.
For example, let's suppose you are thinking about taking a class, one that might improve your skills and maybe even get you a promotion. You check the syllabus and see that this class requires you to write several papers. Your old, negative self-talk might automatically remind you that the last time you had to write a paper you received a poor grade. You told yourself you couldn't do it then and habitually, you start to do so again.
At this point, most people start an inner argument, “No. Maybe this time I can do it. Maybe this class would be different.” Rather than arguing with yourself, try changing the style of the dialog. Take charge. You might say, "I’m older and wiser now. I merely lacked confidence (or guidance) back then; now I know exactly how to ask for what I need in order to succeed. That past experience prepared me to succeed now. I want and deserve that promotion and I am willing to learn something new to get it. I’m in charge and I choose to succeed.”
That’s a different kind of conversation. It does not leave much room for that old inner voice to criticize. Start out by simply stating your intention. Self-confidence is just the way you choose to see yourself. You are a winner. Life is about perception and choice. None of us can enjoy our life fully if we constantly perceive it through a negative filter. Make a change. Choose to see the glass half full.
You can do anything you set your mind to!