A truck spoke to me once. A sign on the back of a tanker said, “What’s getting in your way is probably you.” It hit me. The truck didn’t, but the sign did. You see, I talk to myself all the time. And usually my self-talk is about me: who I am, what I am, what I think other people think about me, and so on. I know some rude people, but the person who insults me the most is that person who stares back at me from the bathroom mirror. It’s called negative self-talk, and most of us do it: we tell ourselves that we can’t do things, that we’re not good enough, that people will laugh at us. That’s what the truck was getting at: I have often failed to attempt things because my self-talk has run me down and made me afraid to try. The thing that is getting in my way is me!
Sometimes our self-talk can reassure us and talk us into taking on challenges: "Come on, let’s give it a go. It looks like fun. I’m sure I could do that." Other times, though, self-talk is pessimistic and negative.
As well as being aware of your own self-talk – and challenging it – try to pick up what your children are saying to themselves. If they are telling themselves things like, "I’m no good at sport", "I just know that I could never be clever enough to do that so I won’t even try", or "If I try that I might get hurt" it could be totally robbing them of confidence.
Your kids need another voice in their head – yours. Lend them your confidence and your opinion of them. It can make all the difference.
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John has been with The Parenting Place (www.theparentingplace.com) for seventeen years as their senior writer and presenter. He had various roles working with youth and families prior to that but actually started his working life as a scientist in neurophysiology at Auckland Hospital. As well as writing and speaking, John is frequently on radio and television.