So far in this series on creating positive self-talk we’ve covered general self-talk and how to use it to build your confidence and self-esteem, plus we’ve talked about using self-talk as a tool for motivation. Today’s topic is using instructional self-talk to teach yourself new things.
First, a personal story.
I talk to myself a lot. It’s a habit I’ve always had, but it got worse when I had dogs because I talked to the dogs all day long. After Maggie went to the Rainbow Bridge, my out-loud self-talk got even worse because I was alone in the house all day long. I’d talk to myself about whatever I was doing at the time, especially if I was trying to learn something new.
The scary part is I didn’t realize how much I was doing it until my son finally asked me one night, “Mom, do you realize that when you’re working you never stop talking?”
Of course, I thought I was going crazy. But it turns out I’m not.
It seems that talking to yourself when you’re working through a task is pretty common. So common, in fact that it even has a name: instructional self-talk.
Here is my three-step process for talking to yourself as you’re learning something new.
Start at the beginning
Some of the best learning comes at the beginning of a new project. Coaching yourself with instructional self-talk during these initial stages can give you a better understanding of what you are doing.
Break down your tasks into smaller steps
Just as when you’re setting goals and creating plans you break things down into manageable
tasks, you should also do this when you’re learning something new. If you have instructions to follow, read them aloud and talk yourself through the implementation.
If you’re doing something that doesn’t have exact instructions, you can always coach yourself as you would if you were helping a friend. So, for example, if you were rehearsing a presentation, you might tell yourself to speak at an appropriate pace, make eye contact with the audience (or the camera if you are doing a webinar), and to keep your energy positive regardless of how nervous you are feeling.
Visualize your success
When it comes to visualization, the more senses you can involve, the better your chances of success. Use instructional self-talk along with your visualization of a successful outcome to paint a more complete picture of what you are trying to achieve.
Keep it positive
When you’re learning something new, it’s important to keep your self-talk positive. Learning a new skill is stressful enough without beating yourself up when you don’t get it perfect the first time around.
This is Part 3 of a 5-part series on creating positive self-talk.
Part 1 – Four Tips for Creating Positive Self-Talk
Part 2 – Creating Positive Self-Talk as a Tool for Motivation
Part 3 – How to Use Positive Self-Talk to Teach Yourself New Things (You are here)
Part 4 – Talk Like You Like Yourself: Reflections on Positive Self-Talk and Self-Confidence
Part 5 – Using Positive Self-Talk to Achieve Your Goals