Thursday, March 29, 2012

Self-Talk or Talking to Myself?

You know, I really used to think all that positive self-talk hype was just a load of bull. Maybe it's the counselor education student in me, or maybe it's the emerging runner in me, but positive self-talk really works. This is a realization I had this morning as I was leaving the gym.

Some afternoons, when I just feel like curling up on the couch and dozing in front of the boob tube instead of researching for a lit review or reading 35 pages of technical jargon, positive self-talk allows me to coax myself back into productivity. I can say to myself, If I just spend one more hour on that paper, then I can watch an episode of 90210 guilt-free while I eat a snack, and I'll be almost done with the paper. I'm totally not speaking from yesterday's experience...
When I'm on a long run and I start to feel the jelly legs creeping in after only 20 minutes, getting into my own head and saying, Alright, A.K., you can finish this run strong, I know you can, you only have 15 minutes left and then you can record this amazing feat, helps me accomplish my goal.
If I'm feeling a little bit lonely, I can usually get the (non-psychotic) voices in my head to agree with one another that I should head over to the grocery store for a bit of human interaction, or call up Mom for one of our 90-minute conversations about everything under the sun. I can remind myself, This small bout of loneliness will pass, and then I'll be excited to head to class to see my friends. I'll also have finished this project and I can be really proud of it, plus I'll have forgotten all about my loneliness.

I'm not saying positive self-talk is an end-all, be-all cure for the common cold. I'm just saying that being the ringleader of my own thoughts and not allowing myself to quit when the going gets tough or when I'd much rather be doing something else is very reassuring for me. Some of my proudest moments in life have surfaced after a great deal of positive self-talk, like running for 45 minutes straight (which is something I literally never envisioned myself being able to do), or designing an entire 6-session group therapy proposal for self-injuring adolescent females, complete with activities and resources (something I never envisioned being required to do), or even swallowing my fear, smiling like I'm on laughing gas, and giving a 30-minute presentation in front of scrutinizing classmates.

I may be talking to myself, and I may have mentioned the "voices in my head" a few too many times, but I'm telling you -- this stuff really works! Now, if only I could muster the self-talk to vacuum my apartment this afternoon...

P.S. Do you find that positive self-talk helps you get through the tough stuff? I find that it's much easier to allow negative thoughts to invade my head rather than positive thoughts, so sometimes positive self-talk can be a pleasant surprise.

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