Human beings have a constant mental chatter. We talk to ourselves much of the time. People only notice it when we mumble our chatter aloud, or wonder what’s going on behind the glassy eyes of a person looking off into the distance.
Psychologists and therapists know that helping a person shape their self-talk will lead to improvements. Thoughts precede actions.
Improvement begins with awareness. This is where quiet reflection and journaling help enormously.
I’ve noticed the phrase “I can’t” appears frequently in self-talk on my less-than-best days.
I can’t believe that…
I can’t do ….
I can’t keeping going like this
I can’t remember when…
I can’t see a solution to this problem
What I’m learning (and advocate to you) is to talk back to your inner chatter. When some part of you says “I can’t” let the stronger, tougher, smarter, wiser part of you ask “Why not?” or “So what will you do next about that?”
It also helps to read biographies of people who repeatedly asked “Why not?” and then overcame the “I can’t” thinking of both others and themselves. Teddy Roosevelt is one of the foremost examples. He was a weak, asthmatic, extremely near-sighted child who everyone thought was dull and stupid. His mother didn’t understand why he sat dumbly staring at the Alps, not realizing that to him it was only a white blur. A conversation with his father catalyzed a self-renewal process. Roosevelt threw himself into a program of physical conditioning and transformed the way he viewed himself and the world. Where others saw uncertainty and failure and danger, Roosevelt saw adventure.
Working on sharpening your self-talk is difficult work. Leaders do it not only for themselves but for the sake of everyone in the sphere of influence, now and future.