How is your self-talk?

Think Positive
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Self-talk can drag you down!

So what is self-talk and what does it have to do with retirement lifestyle design and personal development?  Maybe you have never heard of self-talk. In that case start with a simple definition. Self-talk is what you say to yourself. It is the thoughts you think as you are working. It reveals what you think about yourself. We all do it but very few understand how powerful self-talk can be, both as a positive and negative force in our lives. We do it naturally and without thinking and we call it honesty. Maybe you are hammering a nail and hit your thumb and say “That was dumb, Clark!” or you notice your flabby belly quivering while you comb your hair and tell yourself “Man, Fred, you are fat.” That is self-talk. And it is very destructive.

When it affirms your negative qualities.

You tell yourself that those are accurate statements; you are just being honest. You are indeed fat and you didn’t intend to hit your thumb so it was dumb to lose control of the hammer. The impact of self-talk, however is more profound. It becomes an affirmation which reinforces the content of the statement. It is not an observation that Fred who is naturally a lean, healthy individual is suddenly and temporarily fat but an affirmation that Fred is a fat man. The image in Fred’s head changes completely. When Fred goes through the day knowing that he is lean, his behavior follows that image. He eats healthier and is more active. When Fred embraces the idea that he is a fat man, why not have that extra doughnut and take the elevator up one floor because that is what fat people do.

It is the same for Clark. He know he isn’t dumb but when he calls himself dumb, he reinforces the idea that Clark is someone who does dumb things. It increases the acceptance of that behavior and the likelihood that Clark will do something dumb again in the future. These are examples of the ways that self-talk can affect a person in a negative way by accepting a definition of a less desirable state. It is important to understand the power that such simple statements can have on present and future actions by reinforcing a negative image.

Self-talk can also be positive!

Self-talk can be a positive force as well. Simply making an affirmative statement describing a positive future state can redefine your personal definition. Fred might say to himself each morning. “I am a healthy and active man who eats healthy and exercises daily/” This creates the image of a man, Fred would like to be. Reinforcing this image will help him live the life of that man and embrace the image until it becomes reality.

Learn about the power of self-talk

There is no better resource for helping you understand the concept of self-talk and it’s power to transform your life positively and negatively than The Magic of Thinking Big, by David J. Schwartz, PhD. D. You are who you think you are. It is as simple as that. Don’t let yourself accept negative statements about yourself and don’t create them. Don’t reinforce negative thinking or negative self-images. Think about the person you want to be and affirm that person to yourself daily. Slowly that image will take hold of your mind and you will find I is no longer an image but reality. There is no time limit on change. You can change at any stage in your life. Retirement is a perfect time to change who you are so create some positive self-talk about the person you want to be. Tell yourself who you are daily and become the person that will live the outrageous retirement lifestyle you want to have

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Hansi January 21, 2011, 9:03 am

    Wow….The last paragraph on the power of positive self talk is so right-on. I start each morning with a lovingkindness (Metta) meditation, and it gets me through the day with positive good feelings for both myself and others. Great post Ralph
    Hansi’s last Blog Post ..The Blog-O-Spear part 2

    • Ralph@retirement lifestyle January 22, 2011, 7:35 am

      I’m glad to hear that you are practicing self-talk. Since he had learned and practiced it, there has been a dramatic difference in my life.
      You are a clever and creative guy with a unique perspective on life and the drawing skill to reinforce those messages.
      Ralph@retirement lifestyle’s last Blog Post ..60′s Nostalgia- 60′s TV-Was it a golden age

  • Dave Doolin February 3, 2011, 6:55 pm

    This is critical stuff.

    Without a society providing (relatively) clear and unambiguous roles for how we fit, we’re adrift without some sense of internal guidance, and how we treat ourselves is really important.

    I saw a talk on TED given by a woman professor who reported that the biggest indication of success was what she called “deservedness.” Her study, iirc, was longitudinal (which means baby boomers).

    But that sense of “deservedness” used be called self-serving, and it wasn’t something people wanted to be known for.

    I got the sense from her that successful people appear with this attitude of deservedness and simply take what they already believe is theirs.

    This is NOT how I was raised. It’s a problem.

    The self-talk here is critical: given my background, my experience, and my situation, the absolute worst reaction I can have is resentment. Even when having cause for resentment, indulging in self-talk producing feelings of resentment is an indulgence I cannot afford.

    It’s an indulgence no one can afford.

    • Ralph February 4, 2011, 8:09 am

      Resentment is about what you have (or don’t have now). Self talk is about what you are becoming. It is not a lie and not really deservedness (which seems a lot like self-esteem to me). It is affirmation and self direction. It is a road map for creating who you will be. Linking back really does work,

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