As teachers we know the power of language and questioning - we use it to empower our students every day. But are we using our knowledge and skills to also empower ourselves?
When I was a teacher, I know for a fact that I was not speaking to myself in the way that I would have spoken to my students. At times, the way I spoke to myself was disempowering, de-motivating and highly critical.
Just as we know the way we talk to others is powerful, it’s important to consider the impact of the way we speak to ourselves.
In this blog I share three simple ways to change your self-talk to create huge results.
1. Think positively
This doesn't mean constantly being cheerful, or being incessantly bright about everything. It literally means seeing if you are talking to yourself about negatives or positives. Are you telling yourself what you DON’T want or what you DO want?
The classic example from my time in primary school was saying to children in the corridor, ‘Don't run!’ and then watching in disbelief as they continued to run around the corner! ‘Walk’ had a much more desired impact. Changing my language to focus on the positive led to the outcome much more effectively.
Applying that logic to myself as teacher might look something like all the times I told myself to be ‘less stressed’ or to 'just stop stressing’. As a result, I was telling my mind to focus on stress. And just like the child zooming past me in the corridor, I didn’t even register what I truly wanted, which would have been ‘more purpose’, ‘time to relax’ or ‘a feeling of calm’. How much more powerful would it have been to be saying to myself, ‘I choose to be more purposeful’, ‘I want to be more organised’ or ‘I will relax to feel calmer’?
What you tell your mind, it will focus on. Your mind will look for it, find it and create it. So choose to focus positively rather than negatively.
My second simple tip is to talk to yourself like you would one of your students. If your student made a mistake would you say, ‘You're such a failure’ or ‘You should probably just give up now because you're never going to succeed’? I'm sure I know the answer already. My blood runs cold thinking about saying this to another person! The negative words there are demotivating, humiliating and disempowering.
And yet, that's how as a teacher I sometimes spoke to myself.
If you aren't giving yourself encouraging supportive and motivating messages, why are you surprised that you feel unable to achieve?
Think about the impact of your language. What effect would it have on a student of yours? How can applying that understanding to your own self-talk change things for you?
3. Ask empowering questions
As teachers we know the extraordinary power of asking the right questions. So if you are asking yourself disempowering questions such as, ‘why is this so hard?’ your mind is looking for all the answers to that question. It will find all the reasons why this is so hard! Do you really want to know all the reasons why you are succeeding?
If instead you ask yourself empowering questions like, ‘How could this be easier?’ your mind will find the answers for you. Instead of focusing on the problem, you are focused on the solution.
When thinking about the questions you ask, think about the answers you actually want to find.
So there are three simple tips that you can use to change your own self talk. I'd love to know how these are useful for you, and the results that you see from the changes you make.