Each week as part of our Thursday Thoughts series of blogs, we’ve been taking a look at how we can be the best possible version of ourselves.  This week, we thought we’d have a think about the self-talk cycle and how it can have a huge impact on both our personal and professional lives.

It is very easy to dwell on failure.  Businesses do it; individuals do it; and newspapers seem to write more about the failures of organisations and teams than they do about their success.  They concentrate on almost programming us to think that success is a phenomenon that is out of our reach. Is it therefore hardly surprising how easy it is to talk ourselves into defeat before we have even started something?

The Self-talk cycle is a simple concept and something we will all have come across at some point in our lives and it goes a little something like this:

1. Negative self-talk:  I can’t do this.  It’s too difficult.  The competition is too strong.

2. Negative self-image:  I can’t cope.  Everyone is better than me.  I am bound to fail.

3. Predictable poor performance:  I told you I couldn’t do it.  It’s what I expected.

These points of the cycle illustrate just how easy it is to imagine that the performance you are trying to deliver seems impossible and that you are ill-equipped to cope.  Children at school talk themselves into failure; salespeople trying to get big deals suffer from it and sport is a primary driver of poor performance.

Success is not just down to ability. Success starts in the mind and choosing to believe that success is possible.  Believing good things happen and that setbacks are temporary allows and enables solutions to present themselves in a form you understand.  The negative self-talk cycle has the same effect as blinkers in that you develop a type of tunnel vision.  Accepting that setbacks may occur removes the blinkers and allows you to see a way to adapt, improve and achieve.

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