Watch Your Language: the Consequences of Self-Talk

We all know how motivating (or crushing) a few words from a friend can be. A simple compliment or criticism can make or break your day. But do we realize how often we dish out these comments to ourselves?

Most artists (especially the budding, newer types) struggle with insecurity about their work. We compare it to more professional work from more experienced individuals, and we tend to highlight our own failings. It’s a hard thing to avoid, and it quickly becomes a natural train of thought: I’m not that good… I won’t ever be that good… I’ll never be good enough.

This probably wouldn’t be so damaging if we always balanced it with positive self-talk. But I would guess that most artists don’t naturally engage in positive self-talk. It’s not as easy to lift ourselves up, and encourage ourselves to push through the hard moments. We tend to lean towards punishment more than reward, guilt more than satisfaction. But in addition to the quality of our self-talk, I don’t think we notice the quantity. After all, it’s our thoughts: who naturally keeps track of how often a particular thought occurs?

The good news is that it’s possible to encourage positive self-talk. You can actually consciously create uplifting, supporting thoughts, and if you do it often enough, it’ll gradually become natural. The key is to reply to your doubts, not ignore them. For instance:

I’m not as good as them… but my next attempt will always be stronger.

I don’t have any fans… but I can work towards gaining an audience, one person at a time.

I don’t feel successful… but right now, success just means working through my obstacles.

Negative self-talk will be around as long as we’re imperfect humans (meaning forever.) But as long as we consider our doubts rationally and give the most positive reply possible, we’ll be able to stay on track.

Do you have a “favorite” doubt you always hang on to? How would you reply?

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