Science says talking to yourself can be motivating you—if you let it

Elle Kaplan, Contributor
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What does your inner dialogue sound like? Do you notice it? It's that small voice inside your head. Do you usually ignore it? It can be hard to notice, but it dramatically impacts how you live daily, articulating your thoughts and shaping every experience you have. By taking control of that voice you can better control your life–and change the messages holding you back.

Acknowledge your inner voice

First, acknowledge the presence of the inner dialogue. This way, you are in a better position to address it. This dialogue can be difficult to notice because it's ever-present. It can seem like an all-knowing voice of reason and it's likely one that you've never thought to question. However, what sounds like intuition can sometimes just be your internally non-motivated self projecting its feelings. In reality, that voice will not always make the best decision for you.

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Study your self-talk

Next, ask yourself: What messages am I sending myself? You may notice you repeat many things to yourself throughout the day. Are those messages or ideas negative or positive? Typically, you will find that you have more negative inner speech regarding some topics and more positive speech toward others. Make sure to notice and take mental notes when there are negative comments.

Study your mood

Once you have a sense for your day-to-day inner conversations, consider if those inner conversations have any impact on your mood, mindset or actions. Try to break out of any negative patterns by combating self-defeating talk with positive, encouraging statements. For example, the next time you hear yourself think, "I don't think I can do this presentation," say this instead: "I will present this as best I can."

Visualize the goals you want

When you hear a negative message, remember that the voice you're hearing is really only a product of whatever you are most focused on at the moment. For example, if you find yourself reluctant to get out of bed in the morning, you're probably focused on how comfortable your bed is. Instead, focus on how badly you want to begin your first task. You can tell yourself, "I will get out of bed now because I want to get a strong start to my day!" Focus on the feeling of completion and satisfaction that will come from finishing a task instead of dwelling on how you feel about starting on it. This will change the dialogue you have with yourself and push you to do the things you want.

Talk to yourself, out loud

If you find yourself struggling with your inner voice, try drowning it out. While it might seem strange at first, there are proven benefits to talking to yourself out loud. In a study published by Procedia–Social and Behavioral Sciences, researchers discovered that basketball players passed the ball more quickly when they were motivating themselves by talking through their tasks and actions.

Other research finds that hearing a word can help you see it thanks to a theory known as the feedback hypothesis. For instance, if you are looking for something, talking about it out loud could help you find it. "For tasks with a multi-step sequence, talking to yourself out loud can help you keep out distractions and remind yourself where you are," said Gary Lupyan, a researcher and psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said in the New York Times.

Considering speaking your positive thoughts and messages of encouragement to yourself out loud. You will be surprised at how effective that can be. Note any changes you have in your mood or productivity. Simply hearing your own voice can make your intentions seem more "real," silencing any internal conflicts you may feel.

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Your inner dialogue has powerful influence over your actions and your state of mind. Remember to use it for positive reinforcement and affirmations. This shift will help improve your quality of life from within and help you be more motivated to take on new tasks. Take control of your voice be more motivated to take on new tasks without holding yourself back.

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