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Lesson 4

Lesson 4

In this lesson, we start to think about how we talk to ourselves. Negative self-talk concentrates our mind on what we don’t want, which is not very helpful – so let’s ask ourselves better questions.

Length of course: 5 Minutes Lesson format: Reading

Negative self-talk concentrates our mind on what we don’t want, which is not very helpful. For example, worrying about an up and coming exam is like negative goal setting, painting a picture in our mind’s eye of what we don’t want. Worrying to the point of being mildly anxious or fearful is not useful. In fact, it dramatically reduces our resources.

The emotion of fear has a positive intent, to protect us. I think the first sign of worry is a signal to take action. I believe it is rather like a hazard warning. If you see some water spilt on a hospital ward or factory floor you would mop it up. It was very useful for our ancestors to protect them from bad weather or other tribes but maybe today sometimes it kicks in inappropriately. A delegate once said, ‘I’m worried about my leadership assignment.’ ‘Have you started it yet?’ I asked. ‘No,’ he replied. Often when we take action the worry stops. There is a great line on a plaque in a churchyard in Cornwall. ‘Worry is like paying interest on problems that have not occurred yet!’

So rather than worry I would like you to ask yourself a better question. Once you start asking yourself better questions your state changes and you are likely to come up with some forward momentum. Here are some positive questions:

‘What result do I want?’
‘How can I improve the situation?’
‘Who can help me?’
‘What haven’t I done yet?’

I find asking myself better questions makes me more resourceful and is quicker and often more effective than positive self-talk. Of course, you can combine them. Paul McKenna states that, ‘questions determine the focus of our perception,’ and Sydney Banks suggests that our thoughts are like the rudder of a ship that steers us safely to open water or alternatively can lead us onto the dangerous rocks near the shore.


From now on ask yourself better questions and reflect on your thoughts, remember your feelings are a feedback loop to your thoughts and ‘It is just a thought.’ You will become more positive in your outlook and take charge of situations.

So, we delete, generalise and distort the information coming in and we get an internal representation. But it is not real, just our RE PRESENTATION of the event. Or our ‘take’ on it. This impacts on our feelings, physiology and behaviour which impacts on our results. And we can change our internal representation with our self-talk or by asking ourselves better questions and changing our glasses.