The wealthiest man I know once told me the key to success is having amazing self-talk. I remember feeling disappointed when receiving this advice over a nice dinner. What a conundrum that I’m getting advice from the a man who was featured in Forbes Magazine as one of the most successful people alive and I’m having a negative response to advice about positive self-talk.
I decided to investigate further what he meant by “you have to have amazing self-talk”. He went on to explain that self-talk is defined as what you say about yourself to yourself, and what you allow others to say about you that you believe. Then it hit me, my whole life I thought being positive is what having positive self-talk was all about. But after my conversation with Spencer, I realized that my self-talk had nothing to do with being a positive person. It had everything to do with looking in the mirror and honestly saying what I think about myself.
Most people have the wrong idea around what self-talk is all about. Most people, myself included before this dinner, consider being a positive person as what it means to have positive self-talk. I think of a funny Saturday Night Live skit like this one when I hear motivational speakers talk about having a positive attitude and living in a van down by the river.
Your self-talk is the most important thing in your life. The core of your self-talk is your belief system. Your beliefs construct your attitudes. Your attitudes determine your actions. Your actions come from your feelings. Your feelings come from your self-talk. If someone stuck a recorder inside your brain over the past 24 hours, I’m willing to bet the things you tell yourself about yourself would be scary. Most people spend their entire lives telling themselves what they can and cannot do. And as Henry Ford said “whether you think you can or you cannot, you are right.”
Your self-image is directly tied to your self-talk. When you look in the mirror, do you see someone who is fat, ugly, dumb, a failure, a bad husband, a lousy father, a victim, a martyr, a jerk, a nag, a mediocre worker…Or do you see someone who is fit, sexy, smart, a winner, the world’s best husband and father, someone who will go over, under, around or straight right though any obstacle in their way!?
In 1st grade, I flunked phonics, then in 2nd grade I flunked spelling, then I proceeded for the rest of my schooling to make F’s in any subject that had to do with reading and writing. I developed a very real self-talk issue around the topic of reading and writing. I would say things like “can someone else read instead of me, I’m good at other things and not good at reading.” One day a sales manager at the Southwestern Company challenged me when he said, “You know as long as you keep saying you aren’t good at reading, you never will be.” I went home that night and made a decision that I would never again say anything about being less proficient at reading and writing. Instead, I would say things positive about reading and writing.
I created “Positive Affirmations” around reading and writing, and I started saying them everyday. My affirmations included “I am a wordsmith”, “I am an author”, “I am an avid reader”, “My lexicon is vast”, and “I am the world’s best Scrabble player”. After a few months of saying these “Positive Affirmations”, I found myself picking up a book and started reading every day. Additionally, I opened up a Word document and started writing every week. More than 14 years later, I’ve read over 100 books and am the author of several books.
As humans, we are programmed to think a certain way, whether we like it or not. Either you choose to give up control of your own programming and let the media, society or your friends and family program you with what you believe about yourself and the world…or… you take control of your self-talk and start programming yourself with the things you want to believe about yourself and the world. If you want to take control of your self-talk, the most impactful exercise you can possibly do is to take out a piece of paper and write out a minimum of 10 positive affirmation and then make copies of your affirmations and carry them with you, post them on your walls, share them with other people and, most importantly, say them to yourself out loud every day.
Here are some of my personal affirmations:
- God gives me all strength, courage and confidence… and with God anything is possible.
- I always communicate with confidence, unwavering Relentless Truth.
- I always put God first, Kyah second, Haven third, friends fourth, work fifth, and myself sixth regarding how I make decisions.
- I am an athlete. I am consistent with working out at least 3 times per week and walk with Kyah 2 times per week, and eating a Paleo diet.
- I raise the belief, energy and confidence level of every single person I interact with.
- I empathize with others’ struggles, pains and regrets and help them embrace truth, forgiveness, mercy and love through God.
- Most of all, my life mission and what God has called me to do is help others reach their God-given potential every day.