Our self-talk, or the ways in which we talk to and think about ourselves, can have a huge impact on the success or failure of our careers and lives.
As we go about our daily lives we are constantly interpreting each situation we find ourselves in and reacting to that situation either positively or negatively. Our inner commentator is called “self-talk” by psychologists and includes both thoughts we are conscious of, and thoughts and beliefs that are unconscious.
Most people are not aware of the constant chatter in their minds. Random thoughts can appear seemingly out of nowhere, causing us distress as one thought links to another and then another. Learning to control our thoughts and the resulting self-talk that rises out of those thoughts is essential if we want to have happy, successful lives and careers.
Much of our self-talk is fear-based or self-deprecating, based on comparing ourselves to others. For example, “I really suck. Everyone else in the business is better than me; younger than me; older than me; more talented than me; more beautiful and more experienced than me; doesn’t have to work at it as hard as I do; is better at networking and knows more important people; lives in a city that is more conducive to success than where I live; had a better childhood; isn’t married; is married; doesn’t have kids”, etc.
Just as our conversations to others can be skewed toward the positive when we choose to see the humorous or positive aspects of a situation, our self-talk can be harmful and negative if we choose to focus on the negative potential of any situation.
Engaging in negative conversation of any kind, whether to someone else or to yourself is potentially harmful to you from a physical and biochemical standpoint, as well as a psychological one. Thoughts generate chemical reactions in the body that can be harmful or healthy, depending on the thoughts we choose. Every time you have a thought, your brain releases chemicals. Some of those chemicals can make us feel bad and are toxic to the body, activating the deep limbic system and creating tense muscles, rapid heartbeat, etc. Positive and happy thoughts have a beneficial effect on the body.
Thoughts will tend to happen randomly unless we gain control over them. You can train your thoughts and reactions to be positive or negative. Re-training thought patterns that have been in place for a lifetime is not easy, but it can be done. This requires awareness and constant vigilance.
Anyone who is interested in entering the music business should know that it is a very competitive environment filled with lots of rejection. You have to have a very strong psyche to be able to handle all that rejection without letting it affect your core self-esteem. If you grew up in a family where you got a lot of positive reinforcement and affirmation of your worth, you will have a much stronger platform from which to operate. If, like many people, you were not so lucky and you were surrounded by authority figures who were not so adept at reinforcing your self-image, you probably have some work to do on yourself. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; usually the incredible amount of drive and determination that is needed to succeed in the arts comes from the need to overcome some kind of early dysfunction. The arts are full of people who have overcome very challenging early life experiences!
Negative self-talk can be challenged and changed. You change a negative thought by first becoming aware of it, then by challenging it and finally by changing and replacing it with thoughts that feel better to you. For example, instead of an overwhelming thought like “I don’t know if I have what it takes to be successful in music,” you could say, “Today I will accomplish three things that are reachable goals for me, and I will feel good about that!”
Celebrate every success on every step of your journey, and one day you will find yourself reaching your goal!
This article is from the book YOU Can Sing Like a Star! by Tricia Grey, MM. To purchase the book or to book lessons by skype or in-person please visit the website at www.singlikeastar.com