Self Talk

Weekly Teaching Tip – May 5, 2014
by Tricia Grey

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

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. It 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

Much of our self talk is self deprecating, based on comparing ourselves
to others, or is fear-based. 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 than me/ 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 if
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, are
toxic to the body, and activate the deep limbic system, 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

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 as a human 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

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 it and replacing it with thoughts that feel better
to you. For example, instead of 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!

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