I’m sure we’ll all agree that at some point or the other in our lives we would have experienced The Power of Positive Self Talk. That very moment when we say to ourselves “Yes, I can do it!!” and believe in our abilities to do so and therefore achieve what we had set out to do.
Scientific research now shows that specific words affect our mental pictures and are a powerful programming factor in lifelong success. The internal dialogue that we have with ourselves on a daily basis is also influenced by the way others have communicated to us, starting from a very young age. Let’s look at the illustration given below.
One interesting event occurred when I was eight. As a kid, I was always climbing trees and literally hanging around upside down from the rafters of our lake house. So, it came to no surprise for my dad to find me at the top of a 30-foot tree swinging back and forth. My older cousin, Nisha, was also on the same tree.
She was hanging on the first big limb, about ten feet below me. Nisha’s mother also noticed us at the exact time my dad did. About that time a huge gust of wind came over the tree. I could hear the leaves start to rattle and the tree began to sway. I remember my dad’s voice over the wind yell, “Rohan, Hold on tightly.” So I did.
The next thing I know, I heard Nisha screaming at the top of her lungs, laying flat on the ground. She had fallen out of the tree. My dad later told me why she fell and I did not.
Apparently, when Nisha’s mother felt the gust of wind, she yelled out, “Nisha, don’t fall!” And Nisha did fall. My dad then explained to me that the mind has a very difficult time processing a negative image. In order for Nisha to process the command of not falling, her nine-year-old brain had to first imagine falling, then try to tell the brain not to do what it just imagined. Whereas, my eight-year-old brain instantly had an internal image of me hanging on tightly. We can’t visualize not doing something. The only way to properly visualize not doing something is to actually find a word for what we want to do and visualize that.
This concept is especially useful when we are attempting to break a habit or set a goal. For example, when I was thirteen years old, I played for my junior high school cricket team. I tried so hard to be good, but I just couldn’t get it together at that age. I remember hearing the words run through my head as I was running to get a catch, “Don’t drop it!” Naturally, I dropped the ball.
As parents, if we can set a lifetime of programming with just one statement, imagine the kind of programming our children are doing on a daily basis with their own internal dialogue.
Let’s start noticing when we or our children use negative statements; this awareness will probably help us to utilize the power of positive talk in our lives to the fullest.