If you find this difficult, talking to yourself in the third person can help. LeBron James famously did this when, in an ESPN interview, he announced his decision to join the Miami Heat, saying: “I wanted to do what’s best for LeBron James and to do what makes LeBron James happy.”
Watching this interesting interview was psychologist Ethan Kross, who decided to explore James’ use of “self-distancing” by conducting seven studies, which found that forgoing the use of first-person language can actually enhance your ability to regulate your thoughts and feelings. And when it’s done in light of a future anxiety-inducing event, it can help you view it as less threatening.
While it may feel unnatural to speak to yourself in the third person, using self-distancing might help you to be kinder.
Now, Get to Work! (And Be Kind to Yourself)
Even if you never find yourself under pressure to score the winning goal of a game, you can take a page out of the pro athlete’s playbook and leverage your self-talk to score big wins in your career.
What you think informs what you do; science has shown that time and time again. With that being said, it’s important that you gain an understanding of and control over what you tell yourself. To recap, here are four ways to do that:
- Recognize anxiety as a normal response to a stressful situation.
- Challenge your negative thoughts. If you need some free tools to do this, check out this automatic thoughts worksheet.
- Speak to yourself the way you would speak to your best friend.
- Get in the habit of positive self-talk.
If you still find yourself resorting to unhelpful negative self-talk throughout your workday—take heart. The goal isn’t to completely eradicate negative thoughts from your mind, but to have your positive thoughts outweigh them.