Positive Self-talk Won't Work if You're Lying to Yourself
Those who know me (at least, reasonably well) know positive self-talk is a huge part of my thought life. Not just my formal "prayer and meditation" life, but my regular (day-to-day, moment-to-moment) thought life. Positive self-talk has enabled me to stay the course in nearly every challenge I've ever faced. I can remember telling myself way back in the third grade (after not doing that well on a math test), "You'll get it next time, David." I've been telling myself positive things my whole life. Things to help me pick myself back up and regalvanize myself to traverse the difficult paths to accomplishment.
But here's the kicker...
Everything I tell myself must be either presently true or reachably true. By "reachably true," I mean it's reasonably possible to achieve it if I reach for my best self and push myself sufficiently in training. If I try to sell myself on something that's not presently true or that's so far beyond my ability to reach or achieve (even after years of dedicated training), it won't work. The reason? Because I know it's not true; I can't "see" myself doing it. (Note: That's always a really good barometer of what's reachably true. Can I see myself doing it?) If I can't see myself doing it, it's a completely unrealistic goal, and I may never be able to reach it. But...if I can reign in my goals so I can truly "see" myself doing whatever it is I want to do, my self-talk will enable me to stay the course (to stay in that place of deep suffering and brutal-mindfulness) as I train to achieve whatever it is I've set my neurology to pursue. Sometimes, it may enable me to do what, at one time, seemed impossible.
Self-talk, based on reachable truth, can make all the difference in the world. It's what gets me through those lonely, monotonous training sessions, where it's hot and dry, where there's no one to keep me company, where there are no rewards except the pain (and satisfaction) of completing a specific (and decided beforehand) work item, and where (because of my commitment to training) my daily life has been stripped of most of its comforting conveniences and distractions.
Positive self-talk works. But only if it's based in the reality of your current situation or a true vision of what's within your reachable grasp if you push yourself hard enough in training.
In my life, I want a lot, and my self-talk is commensurately super aggressive. That's why I push myself so God-awful hard in my daily training regimens.