Saturday, July 4, 2015

July 4. How Self Talk Affects Your Success

Everyone has thoughts going through their mind all day on every topic imaginable and some sources, including the National Science Foundation, put the number at somewhere between 50,000 and 70,000. That breaks down to about 35-48 thoughts per minute. Who knows if this is actually true, but some days, it sure feels like it to me.

The May issue of Psychology Today had an article by Pamela Weintraub called The The Voice of Reason. There, she described the work of psychologist Ethan Kross and his studies on how we engage in daily self talk.

In a series of groundbreaking experiments, Kross has found that how people conduct their inner monologues has an enormous effect on their success in life. Talk to yourself with the pronoun I, for instance, and you’re likely to fluster and perform poorly in stressful circumstances. Address yourself by your name and your chances of acing a host of tasks, from speech making to self-advocacy, suddenly soar. 

Kross went on to provide examples of individuals who were able to get through some very challenging circumstances using this form of self talk and the reasons this way of speaking causes changes in the brain and ultimately, an individual's behavior.

By toggling the way we address the self—first person or third—we flip a switch in the cerebral cortex, the center of thought, and another in the amygdala, the seat of fear, moving closer to or further from our sense of self and all its emotional intensity. Gaining psychological distance enables self-control, allowing us to think clearly, perform competently. The language switch also minimizes rumination, a handmaiden of anxiety and depression, after we complete a task. Released from negative thoughts, we gain perspective, focus deeply, plan for the future.

Changing our self talk gives us the power to free ourselves from the  continuous cycle of rumination, doubt and worries that can occupy our time.

Today, consider looking at the ways you engage in self talk and opt for conversing with yourself in a different way.  See what happens.

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