How to develop good self-talk to build resilience

I find it fascinating how if two people experience the same event, to one person it can be a minor annoyance and to the other a major disaster. The clues how we view events is in our self-talk, that little voice in our heads.

The good news is we can change unhelpful self-talk which will lead to a more helpful view of the events we dislike and consequently help build our resilience.

Let me illustrate with something that happened only last week when I awoke in the middle of the night to answer a call of nature and… walked in to the bathroom door frame.

Doh!!! A small gash appeared on my right eye brow. It got worse.

By the way, I’m now fine, everything is OK.

I was a little shook up at the time. I was worried my black eye would be noticed the next day as I had to give an online presentation on resilience for a client.

By the way, the image with this blog was taken just after I’d delivered my online keynote.

What’s worse, even though thorough tech checks were done with the client and I’d done plenty of checks privately before the event, the platform we were using decided to do an update just before I was about to speak and I couldn’t use the tech I needed.

All, what I call, essential tech was in place ie decent camera, microphone, internet connection etc. I just couldn’t use my virtual camera. Which, would have made my presentation slicker and easier for me to present, allowing me to focus 100% on my delivery without the distraction of having to press extra buttons to show slides and videos using a clunky platform.

Thankfully, I was fully prepared to do a low tech version of my session. It only took me four minutes to switch things round.

As for the bruised eye, some quick thinking was needed and I worked out if I sat as far away from the camera as I could (without looking too far away) and wore my reading specs, that would ‘disguise’ the eye… it worked.

The presentation went brilliantly and nobody noticed the throbbing eye. I was happy and more importantly the client was happy too… phew!

When I told my friend what had happened, he said, ‘what a nightmare!’

Really? A ‘nightmare?’

Sure, I could have done without the glitches just before giving a presentation. It WAS a challenge, albeit a small one, and a little stressful too, but it was a long way off from being a ‘nightmare.’

I got through it mainly because, I’d prepared as much I could taking in to account any possible technical issues I might have. The client was also well aware of possible technical issues and we agreed a contingency plan.

The real ‘skill’ needed, is when a curve ball is thrown at you or, in my case a rogue door frame, how quickly you can put the event in to perspective.

There’s a lot more to nurturing the ability to put an event in to perspective and a very good starting point is the language we use with our self-talk.

When we say to ourselves something is a ‘disaster’ or ‘impossible’ or ‘going to be hard’ we’re already setting ourselves up for failure. In short, we’re disempowering ourselves.

Helpful self-talk has a host of benefits. From helping us to be better equipped to solve problems to making us more efficient at coping with hardships and challenges. Add reducing stress and anxiety, what’s not to like?

The challenge is creating the habit of empowering self-talk. It can take time to acquire but it can be done and is well worth it.

Here’s how I suggest you at least start :)

1) Call in the language police

Police your language. If you catch yourself saying something to yourself that’s unhelpful, correct yourself.

You might catch yourself saying, ‘I failed.’ You might correct yourself by saying, ‘OK, I didn’t get the result I wanted, but I was courageous enough to give it my best shot, what are my options now?’

Better still, buddy up with someone and give each other permission to interrupt each other’s conversations when something unhelpful is said.

For example, one person says, ‘I can’t do this.’

The other person points out the unhelpful statement and the first person has to correct it.

They might change it to, ‘I can’t do this YET’ or ‘I can’t do this yet and it’s a good opportunity to learn.’

2) Surround yourself with a positivity posse

Be careful of the company you keep. We often absorb the opinions and emotions of the people around us.

If they’re moaners, groaners and complainers, after a while we’ll lean towards moaning, groaning and… (that’s right) complaining. If the people we surround ourselves have a ‘can do’ attitude and a positive outlook on life we’re more likely to absorb that attitude.

It’s exactly the same when it comes to absorbing the language the people around us use.

If possible (I know it’s not always possible to do) eliminate as much as you can the negative people and nurture relationships with positive people.

3) Immerse yourself in positivity 

There’s something to be said for seeing positive inspiring quotes and images. You can put them on slips of paper and stick them around your office/home, or as your screen saver, or in your wallet/purse. Subscribe to a positive/inspiring quote of the day facility.

Watch heart-warming and positive films and programmes on TV. Read inspiring biographies and stories.

I’m not saying we should ignore the issues and challenges we have, nor am I saying ignore the news and what’s happening in the world because we need to know what is going on.

I’m saying eliminate as much negativity as you can and accentuate the positive.

That’s it until next time, must dash, I’m off to have a conversation with a door frame to point out the error of its ways, wish me luck :O

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