Your harshest critic is often yourself. You might not even realize it, especially as you go around administering fair attention and wise advice to others. Yet anyone listening in on your internal monologue, particularly in times of nerves, anxiety, or fear, might hear a verbal rabbit hole of unreasonable negativity and self-berating.
The focus of your internal mumbling turns out to have important consequences, because there’s a particular type of self-talk that actually lifts you out of the irrational darkness. According to research by psychologist Ethan Kross, there’s more to the idea of “your best self” than New Age-y life affirmations spoken to your reflection in a mirror.
In other words, how you talk to yourself can impact your success.
Avoid the first person.
Many of us can recognize in moments of severe self-criticism and fault-finding that we aren’t being helpful or logical, but that realization doesn’t make it any easier to shift our point of view. Surprisingly, it’s actually as easy as saying it.
It’s a matter of switching your pronouns. Avoid the first-person, and instead, use pronouns like “you”, third-person pronouns, or address yourself by your name. You might already do this automatically, uttering reactions like, “Oh, why’d you do that?” or psyching yourself up by saying, “Okay, you can do this!” But this is a powerful deliberate tactic to improve performance and gain control of your feelings and actions.
In one of Kross’s studies, people faced what so many consider their greatest fear: public speaking. They had to give a speech, both in front of an audience and while being videotaped, explaining why they were qualified to attain their dream job—all without getting enough time to prepare or being allowed to take notes. To read more from Janet Choi, click here.