GAIN a lot of benefits by talking to yourself in certain ways.
Why do you suppose that is? What is going on? One intriguing
theory is that the two separate brain hemispheres in your head
function like two different personalities, and they can influence
This is what we know: The top layer of
your brain has two sides, called hemispheres, and they function
differently. Your left hemisphere, for example, deals with language.
Your right hemisphere deals with emotions (Im oversimplifying
here so we can talk about it briefly).
Research has shown if the left hemisphere
of a mans brain is destroyed by a war injury or stroke,
he is unable to speak. He can feel. He knows what he wants to
say, but he doesnt have the brain machinery to put it into
If his right hemisphere is destroyed, on
the other hand, but his left hemisphere is still intact, he is
capable of putting things into words, but he speaks in a monotone:
He has no feeling or emotional expression when he speaks.
That is a basic understanding of the brain
hemispheres. One side deals with language, reason and logic.
The other side processes emotion (the brains of women are less
compartmentalized than mens but these basic divisions of
hemispheric strengths still hold).
Now, if we can extrapolate, we come up
with a helpful understanding. The right hemisphere contains emotions,
including worries, fears, irrational depressions, and hurt feelings,
and if you arent talking to yourself, thats all there
is: A dumb (mute) emotional person.
When things are going well, thats
great. Emotional feelings of love and happiness are the height
of life. But when things are going badly, when you feel negative
emotion, it is unpleasant and sometimes difficult to act in your
own best interests.
One of the things Ive noticed many
times is that when I feel afraid or depressed, my thoughts are
a response to my feelings. I feel worried, so my thoughts, quite
automatically, contain worried images and words. But when I deliberately
take over my thoughts and think what I want to think
not at the effect of my feelings, but like a responsible adult
talking to an hysterical child I have noticed my thoughts
can influence my feelings just as much as my feelings influence
So I might say to myself, Hey wait
a minute. It isnt that big of a deal. Even if it turns
out badly, its not a catastrophe. I can do this.
This simple, rational self-talk usually calms me down. It makes
me saner. More logical. More rational. And my feelings become
If youve never tried this, Im
sure it must sound too easy. An effective solution cant
possibly be that simple. And in a way, thats true. There
is a trick to it. Sometimes you have to be firm, as you might
with a child throwing a fit. But it doesnt take practice
and it isnt difficult. All you have to do is start talking
sense to yourself.
Think about it this way: youve got
two brains. Your right brain is the source of vague worries and
fears, which show up as images rather than words (imagery is
more associated with the right hemisphere). Normally, your left
brain picks up the emotional tone and starts adding words like
a narrator of a documentary film. Your words embellish the feelings,
heightening them and prolonging them. If you arent paying
attention, if youre just going along with it, you can sink
into a lousy state in no time at all.
But just turn on your language and see
what happens. Take your brain off automatic pilot and start thinking
what you want to think say to yourself what you
want to have going through you mind. Say sane, reasonable,
calm, effective things to yourself, and watch what happens. Your
right brain calms down. You calm down.
Stop playing the narrator and start directing
the film. This is where slotras
can come in and save the day. Youve practiced them already
(when you didnt need them), and now that you could really
use some sane thoughts, you have them ready made.
Be a cause rather than an effect
of your emotional state. When your feelings are negative, they
will naturally alter what youre thinking. Youll automatically
think negatively in response to the feelings. But you can turn
it around. Think calming thoughts deliberately and your feelings
will automatically change in response to your self-talk.
the book, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship
Essex, you can read the fascinating true story of a whaling
ship that was deliberately sunk by a whale.
After the ship sunk, the men in the small
boats were left adrift in the middle of the ocean. The three
boats were eventually seperated, and one of the boats was captained
by Owen Chase. He gave his men coaching in how to think about
their circumstances. I reasoned with them, Chase
was later to say, and told them that we would not die sooner
by keeping our hopes.
They had already seen one of their men,
Richard Peterson, die, and they saw that the loss of hope is
basically what killed him. Almost as soon as he gave up, he died.
Owen Chase came up with all kinds of arguments
and thoughts that would help them stay determined to keep trying
and not give up, to keep them from sinking into hopelessness
and despair. What he was doing was teaching them how to think
about their circumstances teaching them to think calmly
and rationally about their circumstances so their negative feelings
didnt take over their thoughts and send them to the bottom
of the ocean. And it worked.
Another good illustration from the book
is about what happens when someone feels determined and motivated.
At one point in their amazing journey in the whaleboats, they
were totally laid out, down and out, they could hardly move.
They were thirsty and hungry and starved and feeling hopeless.
But someone sighted land and all of them
at once came alive! They were up and moving and shouting. These
were people who were almost dead a few moments ago.
Why? Hopelessness and helplessness suck
out the soul, leaving but the shales and husks of men. But the
possibility of success creates energy and determination.
Consider this: Whether you think something
is possible or not is largely in
your head, and since confidence in the possibility of success
makes such an enormous difference, it is vitally crucial that
you learn to think in a way that keeps your confidence alive.
It is crucial that you think in a way that keeps you determined
Your mental habits are the things to master.
What electrified the men was the thought that they might make
it. But think about it: They werent on land yet. There
might not have been any fresh water there. But moments before,
most of them were harboring doubt that they would ever make it
home alive. That thought is debilitating maybe as debilitating
as severe dehydration or starvation.
Youve got to learn to coach yourself
toward confidence and determination and motivation. And coach
yourself using slotras pithy phrases that encapsulate
I dont know about you, but when I
first heard about using positive self-talk to improve
my performance, it didnt strike me as particularly earthshaking.
It seems like common sense, doesnt it? Obviously, if you
talk to yourself in a confident, reassuring, positive way, you
will probably perform most tasks better.
But then it occurred to me in mid-scoff
that, as obvious as this seems, I didnt do it. I
did not deliberately talk to myself in a confident, reassuring,
positive way in order to improve my performance.
So I decided to try it on public speaking,
a task I was learning to do at the time. Heres what I found:
When I thought about an upcoming speech, Id get a jolt
of adrenaline, and that jolt triggered my mind to start thinking
a stream of anxious thoughts: I should have picked a better
topic. They arent going to like it. Maybe I can get out
of it somehow. This was a stream of not only anxious thoughts,
but anxiety-provoking thoughts they made me feel
And these thoughts were automatic. I didnt
try to think these things. They just seemed to happen
all by themselves. In fact I tried not to think them.
I also found it very easy to take over
my own thought-stream. I just interrupted and started talking:
Wait a minute, hold on one minute. It is a good subject
to talk about, and at least some of the people in the audience
will be interested. Its going to be okay. Ill do
fine. Ill prepare well and when I get up there, Ill
just relax and have a good time. This made me feel calmer.
I eventually created a slotra that worked
better than anything, and Ive
already told you about it: I will make them
get how important this is.
Its easy to take over your thoughts
and think whatever you want to think. You might not do it naturally,
but it is easy.
It is like breathing when people
feel stressed, their breathing automatically becomes shallow
and high in the chest, and this way of breathing makes them feel
more stressed. But once they become aware of it, they can very
easily take over their breathing and breathe any way they like.
Self-coaching works the same way. Yes,
there may be an automatic thinking style your brain uses when
you feel anxious (or any other negative emotion), but you can
very easily take over and do it the way you like any time you
want. All you need is to be aware of the possibility.
This is good news. It works very well and
it is easy to do.
When you want to improve your performance
on some task, every time you think about the task, talk to yourself
in a confident, reassuring, positive way especially right
before the task. Youll feel better and youll do better.
And any time you are feeling a negative
emotion, deliberately begin talking to yourself calmly, rationally,
and logically and your feelings will change in response. Think
of it as your left, verbal hemisphere talking to your more emotional
If it is a situation that repeats itself,
you can create and practice good slotras just for those situations.
Your state of mind when doing some things
is very important. Before sending their salespeople out to cold
canvass, sales managers often talk to their people, pumping them
up trying to get them in the right frame of mind before
Canvassing, or cold calling, is going out
to sell someone something without an appointment. Starting cold.
Just walking in, or knocking on their door uninvited, and trying
to sell them. You know how much you dislike being on the receiving
end, so you can imagine how difficult the job is and how high
the rejection level might be. Sometimes it is worse than rejection.
Sometimes it is hostility.
The sales manager doesnt do anything
astonishing to get her salespeople in the right frame of mind.
She reminds them of some basic fundamentals: Rejection is part
of the process, this is a numbers game, our product is the best
they can get at the best price, your job is to turn them on to
something good, persistence is the key, and if you are successful,
the rewards are high.
By reminding salespaople of these fundamentals
right before they go do it, their chances of doing well are greater.
Your frame of mind what is going
through your mind when you do something, and especially
when you begin something, has a large influence on how successfully
you do it.
With some deliberate effort, you can get
yourself in the right frame of mind before doing something, and
slotras can help tremendously.
Read the next chapter: Repetition
This article is part of a series on Slotralogy.
Read the first section here: Slotralogy