Be very careful how you are talking to yourself - because YOU are listening! The thoughts that prompt you to speak to yourself in a given situation are heard by your subconscious mind. Especially, when you are in a near-trance-like state, it sinks straight in and the suggestions are accepted by your subconscious mind. Studies reveal that 80% of the thoughts you have were the same thoughts you had yesterday. Imagine the impact this self-talk is having on you if they are acting like daily affirmations, unintentional but then your subconscious, which cannot distinguish between reality and imagination does not know that.
How do you talk to yourself? Do you address yourself in the first person pronoun 'I' or the second person pronoun 'You' or the third person noun 'your name'? Does this reveal anything about you to yourself by introspecting why you do this? Did you consciously (deliberately) choose to address yourself in this manner, or is it just a habit you developed over time? How does it feel when you change this - if you address yourself in the first person, try the other two and so on. Become aware of how different it feels to you.
For most people, self-talk is the most common conversational activity one indulges in throughout the day. And perhaps the most important too, as studies in the past five decades reveal. Are you even aware of the fact that you are talking to yourself, or does this just happen in a state of non-awareness? Compared to what others tell us or about us (negatively), it is vitally important that you are extremely careful about what you are telling yourself. This is because self-talk strongly influences your perception. Perception is the way you see yourself, others, situations and personalities.
The first step therefore, even before you start anything else in your self-improvement strategies is to become fully aware of what you are telling yourself. If this self-talk is channeled appropriately, they can be empowering and constructive; if not, they have the capacity to make you feel weaker and pull yourself down. Self-talk has tremendous potential to influence your behaviour and outcomes, far more than you realize, even when you do realize its potential. As human beings indulging in this often unconscious presumed harmless activity, you have a choice - you can use self-talk to feel liberated or limited; to feel free or frustrated; to judge, criticize and condemn yourself; to encourage and motivate yourself.
It is important that you create thoughts of acceptance, respect and approval for yourself by yourself, irrespective of what others including family, friends and colleagues, think or say about you. What they say is irrelevant unless you receive and absorb it, what you say to yourself is supremely important. Your core, your higher self, your unconscious mind, your soul needs to know that YOU love, respect, accept and approve of yourself. It makes your inner self extremely powerful and feel appreciated! Positive self conversations are not fantasies or disconnecting from reality and a few minutes given to the activity do a lot of benefit and no harm at all.
Although self-talk can be engaged in whilst driving, cooking, eating or walking, it is more powerful when your complete focus is on the conversation you are having with yourself doing nothing else at that time. This means that you have dedicated optimal mental energy to the activity of talking to yourself. Becoming aware is the first step towards everything - where your attention goes, your energy flows. For all the positive inputs you give yourself, use the personal pronoun "I" - check how that feels.
Psychological studies also reveal that using the second and third person whilst addressing yourself can also be useful. The first person pronoun "I" implies that you take personal responsibility which is important in your self-talk to motivate yourself and uplift your state of mind. The second person pronoun "You" often implies that you are addressing someone other than yourself - this means you do not take personal responsibility and see 'someone other than yourself' as responsible. When you tell yourself - "You have to improve on this" - chances are you won't take yourself seriously. Try telling yourself - "I want to improve on this."
Where expectations from yourself are so high in extremely intense or tough situations and it causes stress to talk to yourself in the first person, the second person can help - for example - "You can do this, dude! You have sailed through other tough experiences in your life, you will easily live through this. Remember - don't give up now. Keep going. Stop feeling sorry for yourself Move it!" This helps especially when it is a feat of endurance, overcoming physical aches and pains or trying to run the extra mile.
Addressing yourself in the third person causes 'dis-association' or dissociation. NLP has been particular adept in developing dissociative techniques to deal with abuse, trauma and grief that arises from the past. By addressing yourself in the third-person, you create a psychological distance, removing yourself from the stressful situation and becoming an 'observer' instead of an 'experiencer' which allows you to manage your anxiety and distressing feelings more efficiently.