We are what we tell ourselves

One of my favourite sayings is “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” by Henry Ford. I love this saying because it makes an impact on different levels; it’s not just what you think, but also what you tell yourself that matters.

I have witnessed a series of ‘aha’ moments with various clients over the past few weeks that have shown me how important it is to get back to basics. (Perhaps having the opportunity to slow down while on a recent 3-week break where I had time to really listen, embrace, and reflect had something to do with this realisation as well!)

I know that it is important to look at our goals and aspirations and to define short and long term plans. I know that it is important to look at what our current reality is and to acknowledge the gap between where we are and where we want to get to. Yes, of course, we need to define strategies, plans and steps to help us close that gap, however, none of this matters if we don’t believe it ourselves or if we constantly tell ourselves it won’t work, or it won’t happen.

Recently, one client relayed a story to me about her frustration at not being picked as the project lead. As she was talking she realised that she didn’t think she could do the job and as a result she was at risk of portraying what she was thinking as she spoke. She left our session with the realisation that if she didn’t think she could do it, why would her colleagues think she could?

Another ‘aha’ moment happened with a client who was telling himself things in the negative. His internal voice would say “don’t forget to finish the board report” instead of “remember to finalise the details on the board report” or “I don’t want to be late to the team meeting again” rather than “I will be the first person at the next team meeting”. We have to ensure that what we are telling ourselves is what we want, not what we don’t want.

Start to notice the language that other people use and you will get an insight into what they think about themselves. Two people may be having hectic days but one may feel that they are constantly in a rat race while the other may feel like the are having a busy, productive day. You can start to get a sense of a person’s internal view of their reality from the language they use. Observe what language you are drawn to and when you feel energised (or not) from a conversation.

At the beginning of this post I shared my favourite saying. This is my least favourite saying… “I can’t” and here is my challenge to you. If this is one of your negative sayings, when you next catch yourself saying “I can’t” ask yourself, “Do I mean I can’tor I won’t?” You may be surprised at the answer. And remember, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”