The most influential person in your life is you. Certainly, outside influences can have a profound impact on your success and failures, but no other individual’s words are as impactful to you than yours. Your words have the power to inspire and motivate or frighten and depress. When the voice in your head is yours, it is the most influential, both positively and negatively, that you will ever hear.
What is it you say to you?
“I’m not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, handsome enough” … or “I’m, dumb, slow and incapable?” Or do you say, “I can handle this. I can do it. I’m good enough and smart enough and can handle the challenge. I will succeed.”
I’ve spent my life as a business leader and educator. I’ve headed multi-million dollar organizations and taught music to urban and suburban children. I see it all the time. Whether you are a young student, a middle-aged person in a career or elderly retiree, what you say to yourself, about yourself, determines your performance, the decisions you make and, in many cases, even your health.
If we are honest, most of us have an ongoing negative monologue playing in our heads like an endless loop tape, reminding ourselves of our shortcomings and failures. These negative words about ourselves and our abilities discourage us from being creative and taking chances. Powerful and negative words assure us that if we try, we’ll fail. These pessimistic assurances manifest themselves as a self-fulfilling prophesy and reinforce our belief in our shortcomings and inability. When the time to act comes, we prove ourselves correct and fail, almost entirely because we convince ourselves in advance that we would.
There is a person who might be sabotaging your life.
The bad news is that the saboteur is you. The good news is that you can stop being your worst enemy and become your greatest supporter and cheerleader. The beginning of your transformation from negative expectations to positive performance begins with the words you say to yourself. “I am good enough, right now, as I am, and I can get better. I’ve got this. I can handle the responsibility. I’m as good and smart as others. If they can succeed, I can succeed.”
A social media friend was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer. I marveled as it played out on Facebook. She posted, “I’ve got this,” as she lost her hair and went through the most trying times. She once posted, “Cancer met its match when it decided to choose me. I’ve got this, and I will be cancer free.” Never once did she post or say a negative word. Today, her hair is back, and she looks healthy and strong. She fought with dignity and never doubted her positive outcome. Her words were always optimistic and uplifting and those words became her self-fulfilling prophesy. Cancer chose the wrong girl when it chose her. She is now cancer free.
Isn’t saying positive things about yourself prideful?
The simple answer is, no. Pride is a lie we tell ourselves to make us look big, when it really makes us look small. I am talking completely about the conversations we have with ourselves, not others. These conversations we have silently in our minds to encourage us to believe in ourselves. Much in the same way a good coach encourages his or her team. “You can do it. You can overcome.” You are your coach, your motivator and your greatest supporter. If not you, who?
Others take their cue about what they think about you from you.
If your self-talk is negative or if you put yourself down, what do you think those around you will think? You know yourself better than anyone else, so they are likely to believe you. If your self-talk is about your failures and shortcomings, that is the way they’ll see you. You shouldn’t be boastful or prideful, but you should never be negative or demeaning about you.
Psychology Today says, “When negative events or mistakes happen, positive self-talk seeks to bring the positive out of the negative to help you do better, go further, or just keep moving forward. The practice of positive self-talk is often the process that helps you to discover the obscure optimism, hope and joy in any given situation.”
Examine the words you say to yourself. Think about their impact. Select your words wisely. Encourage yourself in every situation and always work for and expect the best.