Friday, July 5, 2013

Talk to Yourself About Yourself

After an interesting conversation with a friend of mine, I figured I'd share some of the same stuff I shared with her there. Except better, because things always sound better on a blog than a text message (at least in my experience). So here goes, we're going to talk about psychology a little bit.

It's been proven that acting a certain way (regardless of how different it is from what you really feel like) will affect the way feel. For example, smiling and acting as though you're happy even though deep inside you're really flaming with hellish anger will actually help to put you in a better mood. One rather cool thing as well, normally when you're pretending or acting, you're giving yourself mental reminders the whole time to remain that way, intentional or no.

This is called "self talk" and it's what I'd really like to discuss. (Not dismissing the previously mentioned idea, though; that's important too.) Self talk is a key in changing an outlook, an attitude, actions, beliefs, etc. because self talk is the things that you tell yourself on a normal basis. It's the voice in your head that tells you that you're going to screw up so badly right before you give a speech or that you're definitely prepared for the final exam you're about to take. And usually? Well, usually you're self talk is right. Why? Because if you tell yourself something enough, you will believe it. (Seriously.)

My friend, she's rather new to the relationship scene as a whole. (This is only as far as I know, and based off of some of the things I've been told.) She is currently in a new relationship, and is extremely anxious when this guy isn't around. Something that she isn't very happy about. (Come on, who would be happy about that?) My advice to her included what I've already talked about. To act like she isn't anxious; to do whatever she would if she weren't. And self talk; to consciously and constantly use self talk to her advantage.

There is an important step that I should point out about self talk (followed very soon by my own experience with it): you can't use negatives. You can't continuously tell yourself, "I am not X" because you're still associating yourself with the negative connotation of that description. It's actually more counter-intuitive than anything else.

A personal example of everything I've said here: I used to be kind of a shy kid. It would probably surprise most people by how loud and/or strange I could be. But I'm a strange guy. And the loud part was (looking back) more of an attempt to get attention, which ended being the wrong kind. I had confidence issues (and thanks to that, dating issues too; but shhh, that stays quiet, okay?). It took a lot of internet searching, psychology articles, etc. for me to figure out self talk. But it worked.

By constantly telling myself that I was confident, that I could talk to people (random strangers, even), and that I was a likeable guy (notice the lack of negatives) I started to actually believe it. Couple that with my confident fa├žade (talking to random strangers, not being afraid to share my opinions, etc.) and I soon actually was a confident (and I assume likeable) dude. Psychology works. Who knew?

So to you I say, the next time you feel gloomy, or have a trait you would like to exchange for another, or something else along these veins, try this. Fake it 'till you make it, and tell yourself you already have. The results could very well just surprise you.