The Art of the Self Pep Talk

Do even consider encouraging yourself on situation where you likely most need it. Here are tips on how to have an effective self pep talk. Image title

When you’ve have a bummer of a day, there’s nothing like a good pep talk, right? Someone to swoop in and make things all better by pointing out all the reasons why this bummer is actually good. Moms are usually pretty great pep-talkers. Friends are fantastic for a good pep talk too, best served up over coffee, tea, or wine but in cases of emergency, they do pretty well over the phone in a pinch. And let’s not forget significant others, although sometimes the challenge is to get them to convert over to girl (or guy) thinking mode, when they are naturally used to guy (or girl) type logic. But what happens when you need a good pep talk and none of your trusted advisors are around for a dose of “you’re better off” medicine? Here are 3 tips on how to give yourself the best pep talk you could ever get.

1. Deep breathing

Technically no words are involved, but we still count it. Focusing on your breath is one of the most calming things you can do for yourself, because it naturally clears your mind. When you are thinking about breathing, you can’t think about anything else so it automatically diffuses worrisome thoughts. The goal with a pep talk is to diffuse, not to change anything that has happened, but rather, to change the way you think about it. We can’t change what other people do, or what we have done in the past, but we can change our perception of it. In the grand scheme of things, most of the stuff that we get worked up over aren’t really that big of a deal when we think about them after we’ve calmed down.

2. Distract yourself

Sometimes deep breathing alone isn’t enough and you need to get off the topic all together. That may feel really difficult to do, because obviously if you need a pep talk about it, it’s something that is really bothering you, but sometimes distraction is exactly what you need. Do something that requires your full attention. This is not the time for a long run or something that you can do without thinking because that will give your mind free reign to ruminate. A great distraction would be watching a funny movie, taking a new Tabata Protocol class at the gym, or going shopping. Often times we think that when we are worried about something, we need to think about it and think about it until a solution presents itself. Yet when we are in that high state of emotion, that is really the least likely time for us to come upon a helpful solution. A better time to think about the topic is once we’ve had a chance to settle down and diffuse the emotion a bit.

3. Build a bridge

When you are in need of a pep talk, usually you are in a rut where it may be tough to even get a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. You can’t exactly start talking about lollipops and gumdrops and automatically feel better, you’ve got to build a bridge to get there. It helps to do this by writing on a piece of paper or journal. The first step in building a bridge is writing down where you are now—how you feel right this minute. Then, write the numbers 1 through 10 down the page. After number 10, write how it is that you want to feel. For example:
Original thought: I blew my diet and didn’t work out today. I suck.
New thought: I love and honor my body and who I am.
Now, start with number 1 and write down the first thought that feels better to you than the original thought. You might have to try saying a few different things before you find a statement that feels right. Maybe, in this scenario the first statement would be:
Well, I did stop myself before I ate the entire bag of granola.
Then continue on to number 2, to the next best feeling thought:
And I did get in two workouts this week, so at least I got some exercise.
And then move on to number 3 for the next best feeling thought:
And I am making progress, I am getting better and better, and I do see some positive results so far.
And so on and so on until you reach number 10, which hopefully has helped you to feel light-years better about the topic. Try it, it really works, but remember depending on how icky you are feeling, you might need to do some deep breathing and distract yourself a bit to diffuse the icky feelings first, then you can build the bridge. Overall, these are some really handy tips to remember—especially since the truth is, who better to pep talk you than… YOU? You know what you need to hear to feel better. And when you understand how to pep talk yourself, then you can open up your time with friends and family for having fun conversations rather than emergency lean-on-me sessions. Yes we all like to bond with our loved one’s over a good pep talk, but it’s so much more satisfying to spend happy bonding time with them, isn’t it?
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