We Go Where We Look Or Why Self Talk Matters

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I regularly go cycling and when cornering at speed I feel as though I don’t even need to move my hands or body, essentially I just have to focus my vision on where I want to go and the rest just happens.

Of course what’s happening is that my eyes are identifying where I need to go and my brain is sending signals to my arms to make a slight movement to adjust my direction. But it still feels like I am making no deliberate attempt to move my arms.

Extrapolating further, I think this concept can be applied mentally as well as physically.

We go where we look. We are what we seek to be. Our self perception and belief become our reality. The things we tell ourselves have a profound impact on our behaviours and the perception of our abilities.

In this day and age, there is a consistent and important emphasis on looking after one’s mental health. One of the easiest ways to do this is to assess your self talk and then correct it if required. Most of us don’t pay attention to the little almost imperceptible thoughts we have but over a period of time, these thoughts aggregate and have a significant effect.

A number of years ago, I read The Magic of Thinking Big, the main takeaway I took from it was the importance of self talk. When a message is consistently repeated, it will begin to be believed. That message can be positive: “I am a confident public speaker and I am comfortable speaking to a large group of people” or negative “I hate public speaking and I am useless at it”. A really useful tactic to dealing with some setback or worry that you may have is to ask “What would the most successful person I know tell themselves in this situation?”

Regardless of whether it is positive or negative, a given message will be reinforced by repetition. There are varying schools of thought for how long it takes for a given practice to become a habit and there is cognitive effort to enshrining a practice until it becomes a habit, but once it sticks, it becomes automatic. The absence of negativity is not the same as positivity, there needs to be a direct emphasis on a particular positive aspect of whatever it is you want to affirm.

Forming a positive self talk habit is not a panacea to life’s challenges but with negative self talk, you will never get anywhere. When discussing topics like this, I am always reminded of the quote by Mahatma Gandhi:

Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.

Are the things that you tell yourself positive and helping you achieve your goals?