The Smiths on Self-Affirmations

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When I was training for a half-marathon a few years back, every book I read discussed the importance of self-talk. One author got my attention when he said the worst inner monologue is when you motivate yourself through self-directed insults – “don’t be a wimp”, “stop whining”, etc. This struck a nerve. Maybe, just maybe, the playlist I was listening to needed less of The Smiths.

If you aren’t familiar with The Smiths, you are missing out. They are a 1980s rock band that continue to have a huge cult following. Their sound is a unique blend of synthesizers and rock with overtones of melancholy. They have such “uplifting” songs as Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me, and What Difference Does It Make? Good tunes when I’m in the car, not the most uplifting of messages when I’m trying to muster the willpower to run up a hill.

The need for positive self-affirmations is not only necessary while exercising; they help us in the workplace, as well. Multiple studies have shown that self-talk boosts morale, self-esteem, attitudes, and self-control. Research now shows that the success of these affirmations can be improved based not just on what you say to yourself, but how you say it.

A research study out of the University of Illinois has shown that using the second-person “you” is more effective than the first person “I”. This means your inner mantra should be, “You can do this!”, not “I can do this!” It may seem like a minor distinction, but it makes sense. After all, we are accustomed to hearing others encourage us and they’re speaking in the second-person.

So try complimenting yourself once in a while. Does it sound hokey? Yes. Just keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with encouraging yourself. Starting a presentation with a self-professed “you’ve got this” is much better than “this is going to suck.” When you want to get introspectively forlorn, crank up The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead. When you want to perform at your peak, practice some positive self-talk.

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