EVERYBODY talks themselves out of something sometimes. Going to a party – “I won’t know anybody there and won’t have anything to say.” “I’m ugly, nobody’ll want to look at me.” “There’ll be dancing and I’m a terrible dancer.” Giving an opinion at a meeting – “I don’t really understand this stuff, I’m a complete faker.” “Everybody else here is smarter than me.” Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston who studies courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy, calls those nasty, sniping, foul-mouthed little critics her “gremlins” to name them and disarm them with humor rather than hiding from them. And you can go them one better. You can outwit them. Give yourself pep talks! Honest, there’s such a thing as positive self-talk.
Ethan Kross and his colleagues at the research Emotion & Self-Control Lab in the University of Michigan’s Psychology Department of the Institute for Social Research have even discovered the most effective methods for doing it. Talk to yourself in the third-person. Not “‘I’m going to do this!” but “You can do this!” Not “I’m not afraid of taking on a challenge!” – “You’re not afraid of taking on a challenge!” Better yet, “Joe, Jane (INSERT YOUR NAME HERE), you can take on a challenge!” Pronouns Matter When Psyching Yourself Up, Harvard Business Review, February 6, 2015, Ozlem Ayduk and Ethan Kross. These professors have multiple studies demonstrating that the technique enhances calmness, confidence and decisiveness. Yup.
Does Lauren understand the neuropsychology and neurobiology behind it? Nope. Does Lauren believe it? Uhuh. Does Lauren think she writes good blog posts? Most of the time. Yeah, positive self-talk takes practice. Lauren thinks it’s another version of that mindfulness thing.