One study suggests we have 50,000 thoughts per day on average. Our thoughts, which are generated by our questions, judgments, beliefs, and more, race chaotically through our mind all day and build an incessant internal dialogue.
Are you aware of the conversation in your head? Are you in control of it?
In psychology, this inner conversation is called self-talk, and it starts to take shape at a very young age. It can sound like, “You can do it!” or “You’re such a failure.” We often don’t even notice our self-talk because it is so sneakily embedded in our psyche. But, in some instances, that would be like not noticing that the driver of our car is a monkey! Our self-talk can have a huge impact on how we perform and deal with challenges.
A recent study by Ethan Kross at the University of Michigan suggests that addressing ourselves by name can help alleviate anxiety before a stressful event, like public speaking.
For example, instead of thinking, “I am going to do well,” try “Laura, you will do well. You are intelligent and wonderful.”
After an event, instead of thinking, “I did terrible,” try “Laura, that did not go so well. How can you do better next time?”
Addressing yourself by name creates some distance between you and the issue. It sounds more like a supportive dialogue you might have with a friend.
This approach supports a broader perspective. Instead of getting lost in the dark and unproductive tunnel of shame, using this technique can direct our focus to what we can learn from an experience.
Notice the conversations that are happening in your mind. Are they kind? Would you talk to a friend like that?
Try using your name in your inner conversations today and see how it works for you.
For more information on self-talk, check out these resources: