Talk Yourself Through It
After I graduated from high school, I was gifted with a 3-week trip to Europe with a group of high schoolers from around the country. It was an amazing, mind expanding time of my life. One day in Switzerland, we rode a gondola up into the mountain peaks of the Alps. We wandered around and found a steep snow field that hadn't melted yet.
Snowballs flew, we slid up and down the slope, and generally played ourselves out. When the time came to leave, I was so exhausted, I could barely move. I wasn't sure I could climb back up the slope to the gondola.
Every step I took, I slid back in the ice and mud. I imagined how humiliated I would be if I had to have some of the guys carry me up. By talking myself through it, "One more step. You can make it," I finally made it back to the top.
Research shows that motivational self-talk can let an athlete go beyond their point of exhaustion. It certainly did for me. Studies indicate that encouraging yourself during exercise allows the mind to override the fatigue the muscles feel. The statements must be consistent, not haphazard, to be effective. It demonstrates that the mind truly does affect the body.
If encouraging self-talk can help an athlete perform beyond their body's normal limits, imagine what it could do for various areas of your life? What if you systematically told yourself that "I can do it," or "I'm capable?" You'd be encouraging yourself to achieve your goals. And you could make it come true because you believe it.
Self-talk is a powerful tool that can make positive changes in your life. You almost always have some sort of inner dialogue going on. Sometimes it's positive, in which case, you feel good. At other times it's negative, and makes you feel inadequate and insecure. When you notice the demeaning statements, and change them to more positive, you'll notice a constructive shift in the way you feel. You're programming your mind with what you tell yourself, and you have control over those thoughts.
But talking to yourself isn't just for the areas of exercise and personal development. A few years ago, I had a personal crisis happening in my life. Because of my preoccupation with it, when I left my office, many times I wouldn't remember if I'd locked the door or not. My attention would be on where I was going or what I needed to do next, not on what I was doing that moment. Many times, I had to turn around and drive back to check if I'd locked the door.
Then, I started making myself pay attention by talking myself through it. "I've turned off the heater/cooler. I'm locking the deadbolt. I'm locking the doorknob." That focused my attention, and saved me the time of having to retrace my steps.
Self-talk can keep us in the present, which reduces stress. When you're feeling overwhelmed, stop, take a deep breath, and just notice what you're doing at that moment. Talk yourself through your motions to keep your mind focused on what you're doing. This will help ground you and allow you to handle your next priority better.
This is especially helpful when you've fallen down the rabbit hole of multitasking. This modern life addiction seems beneficial, but secretly drains time and productivity from your day. You can only think of one thing at a time, and only be effective doing a single activity. So, although multitasking feels productive, it's really just the opposite.
When multitasking, it takes several minutes to shift from one activity to another, or regain your focus after an interruption. Giving yourself instructions while multitasking can help. Tell yourself, "It's time for me to shift from x to y." This gives you direction and allows you to concentrate on your task.
When you talk to yourself in conscious and affirmative ways, you're taking charge of your thoughts. It affects your belief in yourself, and boosts you physically. Your attention then directs your actions. Who knows, you may make it to the top of a mountain you thought you couldn't climb.
Copyright © 2009-2017 Linda Ann Stewart
As a speaker, personal and professional development coach, and hypnotherapist, Linda-Ann Stewart helps business and professional women who feel stuck, immobilized and overwhelmed to focus, prioritize and break through so they build more business and create a consistent income. Sign up for her FREE guide, "Take Control of Your Day," at www.Linda-AnnStewart.com/guide-takecontrol.html.You can contact her at LAS@Linda-AnnStewart.com or 928-600-0452.
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