What’s the question?
In the last module we looked at how you can start to be more aware of the type of self-talk you use, and how with negative self-talk, you can begin to challenge and change what you say to yourself.
In this module, we’ll explore the connection between self-talk and self-confidence, and look into the questions you might ask yourself when you’re in challenging situations. I’ll demonstrate how the questions you ask will have an impact on how you feel and what you do.
We’ll explore ways to change those questions and discuss the benefits to you of doing so. I’ll also show you how to think more strategically so you can act and become more confident.
Using self-talk is one of the most useful techniques and skills you can develop for boosting self-confidence and general well-being. It sounds so easy, yet most people don’t even think about it, and as a consequence, they develop extremely poor habits, which end up being quite damaging.
Negative dialogue, either as self-talk – so just speaking to ourselves – or in conversation with others, has a way of giving us a view of life that’s pretty downbeat.
Listen to most conversations going on around you, in coffee bars, at the office, whilst people are on the phone, or in many social situations and I can guarantee that a high proportion of the talk veers towards critical and negative discussions rather than positive and pleasant chat.
If attitude is contagious, what people say will also affect your own outlook on life. That’s why spending time with people who complain about everything is just demotivating and can become quite stressful.
Self-talk and self-confidence
Self-confidence is about believing in your own ability, so developing ways – or strategies – of encouraging and reinforcing this belief is essential.
Positive thinking and the use of positive statements is just one method and I’ll cover this in much more detail in the module on confidence. Here we’ll focus specifically on the self-talk aspect.
Changing language to help boost confidence is one of the biggest challenges for people who tend to use a lot of negative self-talk.
This pattern of mild self-depreciation has usually developed over the years, and has its basis in low levels of self-esteem and self-confidence.
We receive thousands of bits of information every day and how we interpret this information – positively, negatively or choosing to ignore it – has a bigger impact on our levels of confidence, motivation and well-being than we care to imagine.
As I’ll mention throughout these programmes on the MYND-APP it’s not what happens to you, rather your response and interpretation that drives how you feel and consequently what you do. SO it’s the meaning you give to events that’s crucial.
Let’s first let’s take an overview of something we call attributions…
If someone says something cruel to you, you can choose to interpret that in several different ways:
– as they’re nasty and they make you feel bad or angry
– or, you can choose to dispute and dismiss their comment as untrue, and insignificant,
– or you can simply ignore it.
Choosing not to feel angry or bad can take some resolve on its own – but, you can choose how you feel and invariably you’ll feel much better if you take their criticism, if it is unwarranted, imagine it on a piece of paper, fold it up and confine it to an imaginary dustbin in the air!
Remember a key point here – it’s your choice, yes choice, what happens following such comments. So your self-talk, after receiving the information is significant in how you’ll respond and how you feel.
If you think about it, how you’ll feel in response to something might actually have very little to do with what happened or what was said – it’s probably more to do with your own frame of mind at the time.
Have you ever had an occasion when someone said something you could have interpreted as hurtful and you simply ignored it because at the time you had more important things on your mind – and it seemed so irrelevant and not worth your time even thinking about –
yet on another occasion you let it fester and you went through a host of thoughts on why they said what they did, and you started to beat yourself up about it?
That’s two different interpretation or meanings, depending on the day or the circumstances.
One response makes you feel worse, the other does nothing.
Remember people can’t make you feel bad without your permission – and the rule is – don’t give them that permission.
What we call reframing is useful too – you could dismiss a comment by thinking
‘they don’t know what they’re talking about, they don’t know the facts and I won’t even give that a second thought’
– That’s easier said than done sometimes, but with training, you’ll be surprised at how resilient you get simply by using more effective self-talk.
In order to perform consistently, performers could consistently think more positively. In fact, I’ll take it a step further – you need to think strategically – leaving the bad thoughts to someone else.
Sometimes saying ‘be positive’ or ‘think positive’ can be a little over-rated – but thinking in a more strategic, considered and rational way is crucial.
A good mantra is
“what do I want…How do I get there’
…the rest is noise…and by noise I mean irrelevant interference.
The voices that you hear – or your self-talk – might originate from two main sources:
Firstly – from yourself – otherwise known as your self-talk or even.
Others – in the form of feedback, dialogue or in an article you’ve read or a video you watch, for example.
Both forms could include negative and positive talk, the positive could be what we call verbal persuasion or encouragement – it could also include feedback from significant others e.g. parents, family, coaches, peers, or insignificant others.
This feedback could be solicited (you asked for it) or unsolicited (you didn’t) – you might find it difficult to be constructive with either type – and particularly if it’s unsolicited.
If you’re in the public eye then the chances are you’ll receive quite a bit of unsolicited and negative feedback. Here it’s crucial you learn how to quickly dismiss critical comments and not allow them to get you down.
Many experienced actors, and sportspeople, will stop reading news reports on their performances or reviews of their shows for this very reason.
Another strategy you could use is…
Asking confidence-building questions
A lot of our self-talk is actually questions we ask ourselves. We ask questions every day and we’re probably not even aware of it.
As I’ve mentioned, a challenge in the MYND programme is for you to take some time to be consciously aware of how you currently think, and in particular your self-talk.
Now I’ll ask you to consider the questions you ask yourself. This is crucial for your personal development because it’s the quality of the questions you ask that determines where you end up. I’ll explain…
When things tend to go wrong a common reaction is for people to ask WHY…
- Why do I mess up?
- Why does this happen to me?
- Why can’t I do this?
These are all questions that will lead to some quite unhelpful answers if you think about it – these questions don’t help you get to where you want to be.
In fact, the answers will probably make you feel even worse because they’re geared up to label you as a failure.
The answers might question your ability,
why luck’s always against you?
why this always happens to you? And so on
and fundamentally the answers question your self-worth.
So start by being aware of the questions you ask yourself and train yourself to ask better questions – questions that will encourage answers that will be of a positive and confidence-building nature.
For example, consider the answers to these confidence-building questions:
- “What is the best thing I can do now to take me a step closer to where I want to get?
- “What personal strengths do I have that will help me to succeed in this task?”
- “When I play well what do I do?
- “I’ll give myself the best chance to succeed here If I do X – what is X?”
- “what else can I do”…and then “what else”
As you can see, these are all questions that have an outcome focus – they motivate you to find a way, to try something else, to explore solutions, to try harder – all good qualities and sensible questions.
So it’s the quality of the questions you ask that determines the quality of the outcome you get.
The example questions are also all ‘action-orientated’ questions that’ll tend to get you motivated and more confident rather than the opposite.
So to Summarise
In this module we’ve started looking further at the link between self-talk and self-confidence, and we’ve explored how the quality of the questions you ask yourself, particularly in challenging situations, is crucial in determining the outcome.
We also spoke about thinking strategically – again particularly in times of challenge – so you might start replacing your initial talk –
the “Why does this happen to me” type,
with more useful
“What is the one thing I can do now to move forward” type talk.
You’ll surprise yourself with how much more you’ll get done and how better you’ll feel about yourself in the process.
In the next module
We start to look at some more techniques and strategies you might use to be more aware of that inner voice and to control it in your favour. Your MYND Activity today
Continue your conscious awareness of what you’re saying to yourself, in particular the questions you ask yourself when you’re in challenging situations.
Then see how you can be clever and turn those poor questions – like ‘why does this always to me?’…Why can’t I …whatever?’ question onto their head and ask yourself a better quality, action-orientated – ‘what can I do now’ type of question instead!
You’ll have fun and feel better for it!
See you in the next module