An important rule of motivation is using self-talk that works for you. What we say to ourselves can be really helpful or detrimental. It can stop us moving forwards, stop us liking ourselves and stop us having the life we want. Here, we explain why self-talk is a great motivational tool.
In the 1960s, sociologists created ‘labelling theory’ to illustrate how our identity and behaviour can be determined and influenced by the terms used to describe us.
It found that once teachers had labeled schoolchildren as ‘bad’, they effectively lived out this label. What it shows is that we believe the labels given to us, whether positive or negative, and allow them to become part of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
These labels may not have come from someone else calling us something negative– they may have come from us – the words and thoughts we use to describe ourselves. What’s important is that we stop thinking about ourselves in negative terms, because our thoughts become our reality.
To get rid of these unhelpful thoughts, work on creating new labels for yourself defining who you want to be. Ironically, you might find it easier to first decide who you don’t want to be.
Use positive self-labels
Make a list of all your beliefs about yourself – everything you can think of – from ‘cheerful’ to ‘immature’. They can include unhelpful adjectives like ‘fat’, ‘unfunny’ and ‘unlovable’ as well as helpful ones like ‘motivated’, ‘determined’, ‘stunning’.
You may find you have at least 30 labels. Once you’ve written them all down, cross out the negative ones that have been applied to you or you have applied to yourself over the years – who needs them? Just keep the labels that mean something useful to you.
Keep your list of positive labels somewhere where you can refer to them – in your handbag or purse, or on a noticeboard. Every time you catch yourself using negative self-talk, look at the list and choose a positive label to describe yourself. Move away from negative perceptions and focus on being the person you want to be and know you are.
Get motivated by seeing yourself in a different way and always be kind to yourself. Remember, do what works for you and keep praising yourself. If you can’t say how great you are, who can?