Self Talk: Taking Charge of Your Internal Dialogue

If you're like most people, you likely discovered that some of those conversations were very positive and upbeat, while others were very negative. The positive, upbeat conversations are reflective of those areas of our life where you have a positive self image.

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We ended "Self Talk: Auditing Your Internal Dialogue" with the direction to audit your own self talk. So, what did you learn from paying attention to the conversations you have with yourself and about yourself in the privacy of your own mind?

If you're like most people, you likely discovered that some of those conversations were very positive and upbeat, while others were very negative. The positive, upbeat conversations are reflective of those areas of our life where you have a positive self image. They relate to the things in your life that you perceive you are good at and enjoy. These conversations are supportive and uplifting and make you feel good. They energize you.

The negative conversations, on the other hand, relate to those areas of your life where you have negative or limiting beliefs about yourself. Those are the areas where you prophesize failure. These are the doom-and-gloom, woe-is-me conversations. These conversations hold you back and drain your energy.

I often talk about the skeptics and cynics of the world as "dream stealers." When you engage in negative self talk, you become your own dream stealer. It is those conversations that stop you from truly imagining what you can be, do have and become in your life.

I ended the last post with three quotes, including the powerful words of Sidney Madwed:

"The first order of business of anyone who wants to enjoy success in all areas of his or her life is to take charge of the internal dialogue they have and only think, say, and behave in a manner consistent with the results they truly desire."

Let me share a personal example with you of the power of changing self talk. A few years ago I had people encouraging me to give a presentation at law enforcement training conferences in North America and to write articles for the law enforcement publications. I was flattered by the suggestions, but at first my self talk held me back.

The conversations in my head centered on questions such as, "What do I have to offer the officers attending these conferences?" or "What can I speak about or write about that they do not already know?" or "Who would be interested in reading about, or listening to me?"

Part of this came from the fact that I was somewhat intimidated by the names and reputations of the people who wrote consistently for these periodicals and who taught at the conferences. Many of them were the legends of law enforcement training.

Eventually, I took a step back and reflected on one of my philosophies when faced with rejection for new ideas â€” "Go for it. All they can do is say No." Now, there are a number of ways people can say no, but ultimately the worst thing that could happen is my proposal or my article would be rejected. If I was rejected I had lost nothing and in fact would have grown from the experience of preparing the submission and writing the article.

I then changed my self talk and began to tell myself that I had a lot of good ideas to share with fellow officers and trainers and one of those ideas might even save an officer's life some day. Encouraged by my new self talk and the resulting new beliefs, I wrote and submitted my first article and my first instructor proposal.

Since that time, I have had the privilege of presenting to thousands of people in a variety of settings across North America spanning four provinces, one territory, over 30 states, and I have even presented in England. I have also had over a dozen articles published in a variety of periodicals. I write a quarterly column for ILEETA's Use of Force Journal.

I am a contributing writer for the book "Warriors: On Living With Courage, Discipline and Honor," and am the editor and a contributing writer for the book "W.I.N.: Critical Issues in Training and Leading Warriors," "W.I.N. 2: Insights Into Training and Leading Warriors" and "If I Knew Then: Life Lessons From Cops on the Street." This spring, "If I Knew Then 2: Warrior Reflections" will be released.

It's amazing how changing your self talk changes your beliefs and opens an amazing number of doors in your life.

So, go back to the advice of Madwed and take charge of your internal dialogue and eliminate any conversations that are not consistent with these positive images and goals. Any time you hear any negative self talk creeping into your thoughts immediately stop it. In fact, you can say NO loudly in your own mind. Follow the NO command with a positive, empowering statement about yourself. Make sure that statement is in the present tense. These statements can start with the words "I am" or "I have."

In the next post, I'll talk about "I am" statements. In the meantime, start to implement these changes into your self talk patterns and notice how good it begins to make you feel.

Editor's Note: Brian Willis is the deputy executive director of the International Law Enforcement  Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA). Contact him via his website Winning Mind Training.


Self Talk: Auditing Your Internal Dialogue

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Officer (Ret.)
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