When I was a kid growing up, we looked forward to watching Saturday morning cartoons and “Tom and Jerry” was one of our favorites. Tom, the cat, was constantly crafting another way to capture Jerry, the mouse. Multiple episodes would show Tom with an angel on one shoulder telling him to back off, and a devil on the other shoulder egging him on. That internal conflict was funny (or at least we thought it was), especially because poor Tom always followed the voice that got him in the most trouble.

Many have explained how that inner voice we hear on a regular basis is our ego. They have also explained how if we are able to rise above that ego – the state where that voice no longer controls us – then we truly get in touch with our own personal essence.

In the meantime, until we get there, we are left, like Tom, to manage the self-talk in our daily lives.

Over my years of coaching, I have experienced leaders at all levels struggling with their self-talk, not realizing what it is, or the power that it has over them and their beliefs about who they are and what they are capable of becoming. When that’s the situation, the focus in coaching is to:

  • Raise awareness and begin to hear the self-talk
  • Recognize the messages and themes
  • Uncover the beliefs and mindsets that have resulted, and determine which have been helpful and which have been harmful or even derailing

How in tune are you with your self-talk? If you want to learn more, keep a journal for the next week and focus on the following:

Listen for your internal voice. Do you hear it? When is it loudest or quietest? Is there a pattern to when you hear it?

Identify the messages. In your journal make two columns on each page. Write the positive self-talk on the left-hand side of the page, and the negative self-talk on the right side. Visually what do you notice? Is one column longer than the other?

Recognize and evaluate the patterns and themes. Looking at your journal, what do you notice about the messages? Are there consistent themes? What do you notice about when these patterns are happening? What messages, positive and negative, are you reinforcing regularly?

Determine the quality of your self-talk. What beliefs do you have as a result of your self-talk? Are these beliefs helping you to move in the direction you most desire for yourself? Or are these beliefs keeping you from living the life you want and are capable of?

Choose different messages. If you find that your self-talk is not serving you, it’s time for change. Look back at your journal and the beliefs you have adopted about yourself. Restate those beliefs to what will serve you best. Then determine the self-talk messages that will serve you best.

With more self-awareness, self-management and conscious choice around our self-talk, each of us has the power to become what we believe we are and want to be.

I’m interested in what you are doing to manage your self-talk. Let’s get a conversation going!