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How Do You Talk To Yourself?

Are you undermining yourself and blocking your success without even knowing it? You may be doing all the right things, but still not moving ahead. Read further to see if this could be the reason why.
Written Mar 23, 2010, read 203 times since then.


How Do You Talk To Yourself?

Mike is a smart, motivated entrepreneur who came to me for coaching because no matter what he did he couldn’t seem to make his business successful.  As he explained his situation, it became apparent to me that Mike was being abused.  He was the victim of verbal abuse, and he was the abuser!

Mike abused himself verbally every time he thought about his business.  He would begin by thinking of all the wonderful things he could do to make it successful.  Then he would immediately remind himself that he wasn’t intelligent, knowledgeable, charming, energetic, capable or competent enough to actually do what he wanted to do. 

Once he started on that negative train of thought it became a “self-fulfilling prophecy”. The more he predicted failure, the more he failed.  He created a downward spiral that was so steep and fast I was amazed he still had a business at all. 

Mike had no idea he was talking to himself that way.  He thought he was a positive and upbeat guy.  However, when he started paying attention to his thoughts, he realized he was beating himself up with words. 

Mike understood that his words had nothing to do with the reality of how capable and competent he was.  His negative self-talk was a thinking pattern he’d learned from the adults in his life when he was very young.  They had always focused on what he couldn’t do rather than on what he could, and it became a habit he carried into adulthood. 

<h2>Ask Empowering Questions</h2>

Mike decided to change his habit of verbal abuse by focusing on what he can do, and asking himself empowering questions.  Instead of saying “There is no way I can finish this project by Friday” (which is negative, limiting and self-defeating), he switched to asking “What do I need to do to finish this by Friday?”  This simple change of phrasing made a big change in the message he gave himself, and in the outcome.  He was now speaking to himself in an empowering manner, with the assumption that he has what it takes to get the job done. 

As Mike paid more attention to how he spoke to himself, he realized that he also spoke to his employees, customers and family in the same defeating way.  Instead of focusing on what they can do, he always focused on what they can’t possibly accomplish.  He never indicated that he really believed in his people and their ability to be successful.  It was no wonder that employee morale was low and customers scarce.

 Now when Mike talks to himself, his employees, customers and family, he asks questions that open up possibilities and get people moving and motivated to succeed. These questions usually begin with “what”, “how” or “who”, and are designed to move people forward.  As a result of this simple shift in attitude the atmosphere at his work and home is much lighter and more optimistic, and his business is beginning to grow. 

So, how do you talk to yourself and those around you?  Do you focus on the positive and possibilities, or do you verbally abuse and undermine everyone by focusing on what can’t be done?  You might want to try asking empowering questions, and see what happens. 

It’s something to think about.

Learn more about the author, Sandra Abell, MS, ACC, LPC.

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Article tags

  • unblocking your success
  • self-talk
  • achieving your goals

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