Dinah Liversidge’s five-step process for changing your self-talk language
Have you ever noticed how you speak to yourself? I mean really taken time to stop and notice the words that you use when you do something wrong, or do work below the standard you set for yourself? Or perhaps when you’re paid a compliment? The things you choose to tell yourself at these moments become your reality and they can be very destructive for your mindset. I suggest it could be time to change your self-talk language.
The more we tell ourselves something, the more true it feels. We start to reinforce the language and even go out of our way to find evidence to support its use.
Learning the language of countries we work with or love to visit is seen as a natural and fun thing to do. So why are we so resistant to learning a new self-language? A mindset language to support our hopes, encourage our growth and allow us to be open to learning from feedback sounds like a win-win. Yet despite this, letting go of that old language and embracing a new one is low on the list.
Here are the first steps I suggest to clients when we’re working on creating their new self-talk vocabulary:
1. Get a vocabulary book
Remember learning a new language at school? We were given a little book to write new vocabulary in at each lesson. These were words that we needed to learn to expand our ability to communicate in this new language. And there were tests every week to make sure we’d learned them and could put them to the right use. Start your own mindset vocabulary book and start a list of new language to replace the negative words you’re currently telling yourself.
2. Take it one key phrase at a time
You’re going to want to start with something you say to yourself very regularly. This will give you the most chance of using the replacement phrase. For example, if you struggle to accept compliments and usually brush them off with negative remarks, try “thank you” as your first new phrase. When anyone pays you a compliment on your work, or for that matter on your appearance, you only respond with the phrase ‘thank you.’ Nothing else.
3. Challenge your use of your old language, preferably out loud
I have been known to stand in the bathroom and talk to myself in the mirror: “Really? We’re going to have this conversation, again are we?” I ask myself. And yes, it does make me laugh a little. The key thing is that it interrupts the routine way of talking to myself and changes the outcome to one where I can choose to change the language.
4. Ask someone to learn your new language with you
Letting someone you trust know that you’re working on new language for the benefit of your mindset is a great way to keep the momentum going. An accountability buddy needs to be someone who will push you out of your old habits, and comfort zone, and remind you why you’re learning a new way of talking to yourself.
5. Acknowledge how well you’re doing
It’s important to notice the progress, every day. One step per day is enough to change the long-term habits we have created around self-talk. Celebrate that daily step and start every day by re-celebrating yesterday’s successes.
What will your new language look like?
Where could it take you?
How might it allow you to change the stories you tell yourself?