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Positive Self-Talk

What we inwardly tell ourselves is important. Although it’s not the only factor in physical performance, researchers and practitioners have seen positive results for a long time. We act on our perceptions and beliefs, whether we are aware of them or not. For example, those who believe it’s a dog-eat-dog world will see only one-upmanship and competition around them. Those who believe in a loving God will notice acts of mercy and care.

What we tell ourselves about the world or about what will happen is called “mental rehearsal.”1 I’ve seen many sports figures or artistic performers talking to themselves before they go out on the field or on stage, picturing a good outcome to help their bodies follow suit. Before horse shows, riders would go through the entire course mentally – perfectly – to prepare themselves for the ring.

Nowhere is self-talk more important than when it’s about our own value as persons. Several religious groups go far in asserting the huge impact of positive thought, such as the Unity School of Christianity movement, Religious Science, and others. But for all Christians, our bottom-line understanding of ourselves is meant to be as children of God, growing more fully into who God intended us to become.

Writer Joy Hemp has a terrific book and set of cards with positive self-statements to encourage affirmative internal messages. I start most days by picking one of them and setting it out as a reminder. It really helps! The cards can go a long way to open me up to the Spirit, ready for all good things.

Betsy Schwarzentraub

1 – Two of many sample studies showed that mental rehearsal was helpful when done at the beginning of learning a physical movement, and when some adult pianists mentally rehearsed their music.