Self Talk

Self Talk

Psychologists call the inner voice “self-talk”, and it includes our conscious thoughts as well as our unconscious assumptions or beliefs.

Near the end of last year I was talking with a friend of mine Adam who’s gotten quite into his running. To cut a long story short, this inspired me. Since stopping my gym membership to do home workouts and martial arts I hadn’t done any running. At my best I was running 2.23 km (1.38 miles) in 10 minutes on the treadmill. I liked the treadmill as I could (as any good business person does) easily test and measure my progress, set a pace, and count down the pain. So as I said, I was inspired.

I plotted out a course around the block that worked out to 2.2 km (1.36 miles) from my doorstep and back again, and took off. The amount of times my I tried to convince myself to stop and walk for a while was staggering – nearly as staggering as I was when I got back and checked my time. 13.30 minutes. For me, a slow time…and I was dying. My own self talk was giving me an excuse to drag my feet and I knew it. “Since self talk is a form of self-regulation, parents or instructors could use this technique to help focus a young student’s inner dialogue towards a process goal instead of an outcome based goal. When applied in an educational psychology classroom scenario, teachers can instruct students to focus on presentation material ignoring consequences, expectations, and/or the attempt to impress instructors or classmates.” – Wikipedia on Intrapersonal Communication.

Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right.

Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.

A few months and a new running goal to achieve by the end of 2013 later…

I’ve tried a few things to shut out the self talk to lays suggestions of giving up, of trying to convince me that it’s too hot or too cold, too wet, or I’m too tired. Music would be an option for most, however I’ve never been a fan of losing any of my senses – and losing my hearing as part of my awareness while running would only be a last resort. I started counting my paces as I ran, which helped occupy part of my brain and I had a great run. Still exhausted afterwards of course as I’m pushing myself to achieve a goal (2.2 km in 11 minutes). Easy for some, hard for others. For me, seriously hard, harder still while not being on a treadmill.

Last week I headed out with my iPhone clutched in my hand so I could actually view my progress – and what a difference. My best time yet at 11.23 – very close to my goal and a whole 28 seconds faster than any of my previous runs. So the answer for me was to take my phone with me and test and measure my progress as I ran against landmarks rather than the treadmill distance.  In saying that however, I headed out for a run today, however this week Kapiti’s weather has been fantastic…so self talk starts again. I’m glad to have gotten out there, run and done my best. Which didn’t beat my record. One thing I did get though is this;

Practising ignoring negative self talk gets easier. Negative self talk for some people can generate depression, and of course all the sayings that come with negative self talk such as; “I can’t”, “I’m ugly”, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m too fat”, “I don’t deserve happiness”…

Practising positive self talk also gets easier the more you do it. So – let me ask you this:

What have you been talking yourself out of doing or achieving lately?

About Stu Dunn

With a background in sales and behavioural science, I enjoy learning more about people, behaviour, psychology - which led into motivation - and more recently - sales again. Having started my own real estate company with my wife, it's time to merge interests.
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