Self-talk is what you say to yourself in your head during the day. Most do not pay attention to these thoughts that fly through our heads at any given moment. But we should really be aware of these thoughts and consciously control them. They can be awesome, or they can be devastating, but they definitely are powerful.
To teach this concept to students, I have been known to stage a demonstration in front of a student gathering. While I am talking to the students, I have another faculty member interrupt me in front of the students and say something not right. I turn to him and lambast him. I ask him how could he be so stupid. I tell him that he is just an idiot to … Well, you get the idea. I then asked them what they thought of my behavior and comments to my colleague? They were horrified that I would talk that way to a teacher they really liked and respect.
I then ask the students to close their eyes and think back to the last time they received a poor grade. What thoughts flew through their heads? Did they tell themselves:
- You’re an idiot.
- You’re so stupid.
- How could you be so dumb?
This is self-talk and they should be horrified when they talk to themselves in these terms. It can be devastating. Instead, they should be conscious of their self-talk and make it positive. Tell themselves how they can do better. That they are capable of doing better. Make a mental list of what to do differently. Things such as:
- I am smarter than this.
- I will study more.
- I will make an outline of what to study.
- I will ask the teacher how I can do better.
- I am a good person!!
It’s not easy to be aware of and control these thoughts flying through your head. But with effort, it becomes easy over time to make most of them positive. What you say to yourself affects what you think of yourself. And what you think of yourself affects your self-confidence and attitude.