How to Psych Yourself Up with Good Self-Talk

Become more effective and productive (and simply happier) by turning your self-talk into other-talk, transforming "I can do this" into "YOU can do this."

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #499

image of text 'listen to your inner voice'

Today’s topic is how to be more productive through self-talk.

Thomas is troubled. As of his most recent birthday, he is Europa’s 16-year-old cybernetic genius son. And he’s discovering that having an IQ of 420 doesn’t help one bit when it comes to emotional issues like…getting up the nerve to ask someone to the junior prom.

We all have emotions, and emotions control far more of our behavior than we usually like to admit. We get upset because a drop of wine spilled on our nice, white carpet. So we do the logical thing: we yell and scream and insist that our life has been ruined forever, and it will require mortgaging the house to fix a red wine stain. Our shmoopies say things like, “Honey bug, you are pretty upset and being irrational right now.” And in our glorious emotional state, we just know we’re being as rational as it’s possible to be. So we yell back at the top of our lungs, “No, I’m not! I’m being completely rational.” 

A week later, after we get released from the happy place with padded walls, we get a bottle of Gonzo, squirt a little on the carpet, and the wine stain comes up in about 13 seconds worth of work.

Our Inner Voice is the Problem

Our emotions often come about because of our internal dialog. If you are about to give a speech, you probably prepare yourself mentally by talking to yourself. Some people say things like, “This is going to be a total disaster! I’ll probably stutter, be unable to form a coherent sentence, and accidentally confess to the world that I have an unnatural love of lamb-covered bananas in cherry sauce.” 

This little internal pep talk probably isn’t going to be the best preparation for stepping out on stage.

Other people say things like, “I’m going to be the awesomest, strongest, fastest, sexiest, most intelligent speaker this group of actuaries has ever seen in a professional setting!” 

Despite the rather low bar (actuaries aren’t exactly known for their exciting speakers lineup), this internal pep talk is going to launch our speaker onto the stage in a positive cyclone of motivation, good spirits, and glitter. Because glitter makes everything better.

Speak in the Positive

Thomas can start by fixing up his negative self-talk. His pep talk up until now has been saying “No one will ever want to date a kid who has a miniaturized nuclear power plant instead of a heart.” He can change that to be positive self talk. “I am attractive, smart, sensitive, have a high sense of integrity, and glow in the dark.” 

The first step towards psyching yourself up is to toss the self-talk that makes you feel bad, in favor of self-talk that creates a positive self-image.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.