The art of excellent self-talk is about learning how to change how you speak to yourself inside your head so that you produce the right kind of thoughts and feelings on a consistent basis. Most self-talk can be either useless or harmful. Useless self-talk is when we find ourselves singing a song over and over again inside our head. Harmful self-talk is when we attack ourselves or lambast ourselves with negative beliefs about the world.
Useful and beneficial Self-Talk is when we speak in a way that gets us thinking smarter, happier and healthier. This means asking ourselves useful questions that direct where our mental attention goes. It means encouraging ourselves and reinforcing positive thoughts to ourselves. Instead of asking ‘What if the worst case scenario happens?’ we can say ‘I’ll handle whatever comes my way. What if everything goes right?’
Talking to yourself in a better way requires two steps. First, you need to work with the negative and non-useful thoughts. Second, you need to replace them with something better. The key to step one is to change the tone of the voice you use when you say negative thoughts to yourself. Usually it is the anxiety in your inner voice or the depressiveness of it that causes bad feelings. By saying the same things in a ridiculous tone of voice it changes the emotional response we have to them. It also starts to condition the mind to think like this in the future. Another thing you can do is always follow the negative thought with the word BUT as it focuses attention away from the thought onto something better.
Step two is about figuring out what your goal is and what you need to be thinking about in order to achieve your goal. The purpose is to explore the most useful way of thinking about the situation. This then gets you thinking in this way automatically. Instead of repeating positive slogans or mantras to yourself, you ask what you need to be thinking to succeed and your brain will give you the appropriate response. Your brain is a master at responding to questions. Ask the right ones and you will get the right answers. Master these two steps and you will master the art of excellent self-talk.