“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us in our minds wherever we go.” -- Martha Washington
Our very first First Lady knew a thing or two about success and happiness. She knew that rarely could you predict someone’s attitude based on their circumstances. And, she knew that “self-talk” was likely to be either positive or negative, resulting in either happiness or misery.
Do you ever listen to yourself? Our minds almost never stop going, even while we are otherwise preoccupied. What are you saying to yourself all day long?
Spend the next few days listening to you. Are you your own worst enemy? A worse nag than your mother could ever hope to be? Meaner to yourself than any one else could ever get away with?
When you shower in the morning what are you telling yourself?
Do you hate the radio deejay who’s so dang chirpy? For heaven’s sake you are out of shampoo. Now your hair will be greasy and look terrible all day. And, you are meeting with your big prospect who certainly will go with your competitor now because you’ll have greasy hair today and look like a slob. Maybe you should use your body wash on your hair. That’s stupid. It would never work. What kind of idiot runs out of shampoo? With your luck, your mascara will be lost and you’ll not only have bad hair, but you will look twelve years old. Jeez, your life sucks!
With this kind of self-talk, odds are your life will suck. Not because you have it really bad, but because you interpret your circumstances that way. In other words, your attitude sucks.
While we’ve all had bad days, and we’ve all found ourselves in somewhat similar circumstances, hopefully our self-talk is usually much more positive. But, if not, you can change it and truly change your life for the better.
Human beings are not perfect creatures. We do forget things and we do have bad hair days and we might find ourselves on the “pity party train” occasionally. All of us have been there/done that, got the goofy t-shirt.
But, the pity party train never goes to success. It drives by without stopping, just so you can see everyone else having a grand, successful time. If you want success, too, then you have to change trains, and change your internal dialogue.
Practice changing your self-talk. When you start thinking negatively, stop and take a breath. Tell yourself, “This is my circumstance. I can choose my reaction and I choose to react in a positive, happy manner.” Then, no matter what the circumstance, you have empowered yourself to not be overwhelmed by it, to deal with it and to make the most of it. Look for the silver lining, the learning experience, and the down-the-road benefits.
Once you choose to control your self-talk, and thus your reactions to circumstances, you will usually find those same circumstances suddenly seem much less tragic and dramatic.
If you’re out of shampoo, it doesn’t have to ruin your day. Perhaps there’s enough left in the bottle after all. Maybe you have a hotel freebie under the sink. Body wash just might work—soap is pretty much soap when you get right down to it. And, even if those options don’t work, there are solutions: wear a ponytail or a French braid or a hat or headband. Or, just know that your hair probably isn’t nearly as dirty as you think, and slightly dirty hair is easier to style anyway. You’ll look amazing! Or at least polished.
Action Item: Practice positive self-talk for the next month. Find two or three positive affirmations you like and repeat them to yourself when showering or putting on your makeup.
It’s okay to start small:
Today is a great day.
I am productive and focused today.
I look polished, confident and capable.
Repeat your affirmations during your commute and a couple of times during the day. Post them on your desk or monitor screen to remind you to use positive self-talk. Repeat them again before bed.
If you keep this up for a month, you will have developed a habit that will increase both your personal happiness and your likelihood of being successful in whatever you do.
One of my most highly recommended books for learning to create your own dream life and practice postivie self-talk for success is: