The Stories We Tell Ourselves: Self-Talk, Sabotage, and Success
What if you were told, that you are the greatest Social Engineer (SE) that you know? Maybe not the greatest, but yes, a damn good one. It is hard to believe, but there is a moment in every day where your SE-ing technique is so pristine, so unabashedly remarkable, that you don’t even realize you are doing it. Whether during intense physical activity, work, home life, or personal life, where a conversation occurs, and a decision is made to either power through or throw in the towel. If the argument to power through is the victor, the driving force is most likely done with subtle reward, self-indulgence, or simply the fulfillment that comes from accomplishing something that was thought to be too difficult or impossible moments before. If the hands up approach is taken, there is a good possibility that the argument was not quieted, there was no pushback internally, and in either scenario, you as the unwilling participant was indeed the victor. How so? The argument is internal, rather arguing for, or against, the result is ultimately your decision.
In truth, this practice of telling yourself what you need to hear, and even at times what you don’t need to hear, in order to convince yourself to do something that is or is not in your own benefit is no less SE than the practice of doing it to someone else. To understand how this properly aligns with SE you first must understand the definition of SE. Social Engineer Inc. in the Social Engineering Framework (SEF) defines SE as,
“Any act that influences a person to take any action that may or may not be in their best interest”.
The definition doesn’t define the person, just that the “act” of SE influences a person. The purpose of this article is to argue that the person defined in the SEF can be just as much yourself as a target in the field. Another way of defining SE-ing would be,
“…the building and leveraging of influence in order to persuade others to act as you want them to. Or put another way, to get someone to make a decision that benefits you.” ~ Michael Tyler — Brain Hacking, Why Social Engineering Is So Effective.
This article will discuss the effect of Self-Talk (ST) and its relation to SE. The topics of ST will then be used to further elaborate on how we SE ourselves. The paper will frame this discussion around the idea that an individual’s positive and negative ST is used for what could be defined as Self SE-ing. The article will cover the employment of ST and inner dialogue from experienced sources as a tool to drive emotion and emotional interaction as well as emotional reaction and further discuss the possibility that control of this emotional ST will allow the individual to begin successfully SE-ing themselves into more positive lifestyles.
2 Self-Talk Theoretical Overview
2.1 Theoretical Introduction
Self-Talk can be defined as the inner speech that is used to confirm and reinforce positive and negative thoughts. This ST occurs in daily life, most times without awareness of the interactions that are taking place internally. Each conversation drives actions, interactions, and reactions while the participant in those conversations, driving those conversations, doesn’t really understand the power that the conversation has.
Charles Fernyhough stated during an interview with Julie Beck titled ‘The Running Conversation in Your Head’,
“(Inner Speech) …does maintain many of the characteristics of dialogue. We may imagine an exchange with someone else, or we may just talk to ourselves. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a conversation. Our minds contain many different perspectives, and they can argue or confer or talk over each other.”
In other words, it is accurate to say that you know the conversation is going on, you hear it, you interact in it, but what you may not realize is that you drive it. Most people take advantage of this inner dialogue for the back and forth banter that it provides but fail to realize just how much control they have over it.
In the article ‘Putting it together: Skills for Pressure Performance’, Mark Wilson and Hugh Richards make a similar comment on our internal dialogue.
“We spend a lot of time talking to ourselves, yet much of the time we are not aware of the existence of this internal dialogue, let alone its content. However, as there are strong links between our thoughts, our emotions and ultimately our actions, it is important that we regulate the information we provide to ourselves in the performance arena, via our self-talk.”
3 The Science of Self-Talk and Social Engineering
3.1 Social Engineering Ourselves
Humans use SE every day, most don’t realize it, such as getting children to eat their vegetables (without punishment or reward), building a case for a raise, SE-ing yourself into a job that you really want, or getting that <Insert Your Name Here> discount at the local bakery. SE-ing can be destructive, or beneficial and its effects are not limited to an external target. Research has shown that daily, humans speak to themselves more than they do anyone else. This conversation that is taking place is re-affirming an idea or a set of ideas. The ideas can be positive, or negative and regardless of which idea is being supported, the target, i.e., Yourself will always win. That is the unfortunate side effect of having an internal argument, you are always the victor, remember Henry Ford’s words.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t. You’re right.”
This article will focus on the ability of the mind to SE itself leading to self-defeating language and self-sabotage, but also, the ability of the mind to overcome those negative affirmations and instead put into place positive ST and counter positive affirmations similar to those used by high-performance athletes to SE success instead of failure.
It is no secret that the high-performance expectations of the Cybersecurity industry especially in the Offensive Cybersecurity space, create some of the lowest standards for self-care including that of mental self-awareness or emotional self-awareness. The pitfalls of the industry and the rapid fail or succeed expectations create an always noob atmosphere. While this will never change, there are ways that we can stop viewing ourselves negatively and start applying positive ST to garner higher success rates, better performance, and ultimately healthier lifestyles.
‘’If you’re not willing to take the actions to change your situation — in other words, if you’re willing to put up with your situation — then whether you like it or not, that is the life you have chosen.’’ ~ Gary John Bishop, Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life
3.2 Stop Talking to Yourself… Like That
“Like every man I am my own worst enemy, but unlike most men I know too that I am my own savior.” ~ Henry Miller
Critical ST is not uncommon. In fact, according to Psychology Today’s article Self-Talk, human nature is prone to negative ST. The problem with negative ST is the effect that it has on self-esteem, confidence, relationships, performance and accomplishments, and overall the self. Often negative ST might be considered a way of self-motivation, however, repetitive ST in a critical manner can undermine positive attitudes and fuel self-destructive behavior and thoughts.
When emotions are high and the outcome is critical, failure or shortcomings create an internal dialogue that details that failure. We tend to question our abilities with phrases like “Did you really think you could do that?” We also tend to directly criticize ourselves saying things like “Stupid, why did you do that?” “You’re so dumb, you don’t belong here!”
We tend to forget that we are human and that humans by nature will make mistakes. This internal dialogue is not entirely our fault, PsychAlive, in their article ‘Critical Inner Voice’ state that,
“…many of these negative voices come from our parents or primary caretakers, as children we pick up on the negative attitudes that parents not only have towards their children but also toward themselves. Our voices can also come from interactions with peers and siblings, or influential adults.”
The issue is that while we know the critical voice exists, we rarely acknowledge the damage that it does or the effect that it has on our relationships. In effect, we are attacking ourselves and tearing down the confidence we have.
‘’Negative self-talk can not only put us in a bad mood, it can leave us feeling helpless. It can make small problems seem bigger — and even create problems where none existed before. Here’s the breaking news, your self-talk is f**king you over and in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.’’ ~ Gary John Bishop, Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life
In the context of the critical inner voice, we are not only scolding ourselves for the mistake that we have made, but we are creating future problems, and even preventing us from getting back out into our life and accomplishing new goals and achievements. Mark Wilson and Hugh Richards mentioned earlier in this article went on in their research to say that positive self-talk should be used to assist in performance as it increases confidence and anxiety control.
“…why should positive rather than negative self-talk assist performance? Positive self-talk may enhance performance through increases in confidence and anxiety control, whereas negative self-talk has been considered as being inappropriate, anxiety producing and counterproductive (Hatzigeorgiadis et al 2004).”
For this reason, defeating critical inner voices is imperative, but stopping the critical inner voice or negative ST is not as easy as just shutting off the voice. This voice and the critical patterns that it displays start in childhood when as children we try to identify the emotions that are internalized, by accompanying the emotion with a verbal attack that matches the emotion.
The Erickson Foundation labels this as the creation of the Self and Anti-Self System labeling the Anti-Self system as,
“…composed of an accumulation of these internalized destructive thoughts, attitudes, and feelings directed toward the self. When children are confronted with hurtful experiences in the family, they tend to absolve their parents or other family members from blame and take on the attitude that they themselves are bad, unlovable, or a burden. Gradually, personal trauma and separation anxiety combine to turn children against themselves. The anti-self can be characterized as the “enemy within.” (Firestone, 2018)”
The Erickson Foundation goes on to summarize the voice,
“To summarize, the voice consists of: (1) the internalization or introjection of destructive attitudes toward the child held by parents and other significant adults in the early environment; (2) a largely unconscious imitation of one or both parents’ maladaptive defenses and views about life; and (3) a defensive approach to life, based on emotional pain experienced during the formative years.”
So, if the voice can’t be shut off, and it causes so much damage, what can we do about it? For starters we must recognize the voice, understand that it is a misinterpretation of the facts and that the voice only has one task, to be critical. Once this recognition has taken place, stop talking to yourself like that, change the conversation, and have a different more positive conversation about the circumstances.
‘’It’s entirely within our power to determine how we think about and talk about our problems. They can be a nuisance or a stepping-stone. They can hold us down or lift us up.’’ ~ Gary John Bishop, Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life
So, how do you combat the critical, self-berating, negative inner voice? There are a couple of ways to approach overcoming the voice, but first, you must recognize the voice. This takes some practice, the voice has places it likes to appear, places where you are particularly low and the voice is extremely loud, places where you are particularly critical of yourself. The hypercritical voice takes many forms and comes from many sources. The voices could be classified in several ways to include catastrophic, self-critical, victimizing, and self-demanding according to Psychology Today’s Jennice Vilhauer in “4 Ways to Stop Beating Yourself Up, Once and For All”.
- Catastrophic — This internal voice tells you that whatever is happening right now is likely going to turn into tragedy, even though the thought of a catastrophic event is the furthest thing from happening.
- Self-Critical — The internal voice that focuses on flaws, this voice is the internal voice that compares you to other people, saying things like “I will never be capable of this!”
- Victimizing — Being critical of yourself can lead to a victimizing mentality where you feel as if there is no hope, and the world is against you. The phrases that this inner voice might chatter would be something like “Nobody knows what this feels like, how could they ever understand me?”
- Self-Demanding — This inner voice happens to be one of the loudest internal voices of the cybersecurity community. This voice is intolerant of mistakes telling you things like “This is never going to be enough!” “I could have done so much better.”
Identifying these voices and where they come from allows you to begin replacing them with positive affirmations, replacing the critic with a more positive version of the internal dialogue that fills your daily ST. “4 Ways to Stop Beating Yourself Up, Once and For All” also elaborates on these steps highlighting the following,
- Notice the critic
- Separate the critic from yourself
- Talkback to the critic
- Replace the critic
Following these steps, an individual might see the positive benefits of quieting their inner critic, as well as begin to remove the critic from their daily lives. There is no science that says the critic will not maintain its presence, but at least there is science detailing how you can maintain effective control over your internal critic.
3.3 Social Engineering Yourself
Using ST to quiet critical inner dialogue is a great tool, however, ST is also great to SE yourself into doing things you thought you were not capable of. If you run, hike, play a sport, participate in any physically taxing activity, or have ever been down to that last moment where quitting appeared to be the only option left, you know exactly what this ST discussion is about.
Think about running, when running whether, at mile 2 or mile 10, there is an internal audit of physical capability that leads to an internal argument. Thoughts begin to fester up that sound like the following “I have to stop my legs are killing me.” “I didn’t prepare for this properly.” “I’m too out of shape.” This is where the argument either starts or the running stops. If the argument continues a second voice, (albeit the same “voice”) resonates internally, “Just make it to the signpost up there, then if you really think you can’t make it you can stop.” After the signpost is reached, the internal dialogue will most likely continue knowing the slow creeping negativity that is waiting because the signpost has now been reached, “Just make it to the bend there and if you really feel like you can’t make it, you can stop then.” Every runner has a favorite motivational statement, of course, it sounds a little like this… “It’s just a small hill, besides when you make it to the top… IT’S DOWNHILL!!!”
This ST is not new, and in fact, has been studied by sports psychologists for several years. The research, however, is limited still limited. In the “Effects of Self-Talk Training…” which was published mid-year 2019 it was stated,
“Although the number of studies on potential effects of ST has considerably increased, particularly over the last two decades, limitations in the research and, consequently, a lack of knowledge still exist.” — (Walter, Nikoleizig, Alferman, 2019)
ST in the context of performance or in the context of everyday life is the automatic statements that we have that motivate us or even tear us down. Research has shown that we can control these statements and in turn control our actions and even our emotions, effectively allowing us to SE ourselves. In the “Effects of Self-Talk Training…” article research showed that,
“Positive ST (e.g., stay cool) proved to be more effective than negative ST (e.g., do not worry), and ST had a greater impact on cognitive (for example, attention) and behavioral measures (for example, motor behavior) than on the other variables (such as emotions). They found no differential effects of instructional and motivational ST on performance…”
It can be said that affecting actions and, in some cases, emotion can be done with both positive and negative ST. This in effect can be translated to positively or negatively SE-ing yourself to a new means of thinking, or new behavioral action. While this isn’t easy to accomplish, the steps to accomplish it are not hard. Self-talking your way to a more positive outcome requires patience, repetition, and practice. This can be noted and observed in “Talking Yourself Out of Exhaustion: The Effects of Self-Talk on Endurance Performance” where researchers validated that practice of positive ST vs the use of existing ST increased successful outcomes.
The research randomized two groups of 12 individuals (24 individuals in total) with the control group having 7 men and 5 women and the ST group containing 8 men and 4 women. Each participant was healthy and participated in some form of aerobic exercise at least twice a week with an average session lasting between approximately 90 minutes and 120 minutes. The testing phase consisted of 3 visits, where the first visit was used to create base metrics and gauge “exhaustion” for each participant. The second visit consisted of instructional checklists like the first visit and a mood and motivational questionnaire. After this, the research participants performed the Time-To-Exhaustion test where the participants would warm-up for 3 minutes at 40% effort and then the stationary bike would be automatically adjusted to 80% max effort, exhaustion would be measured as the falling below 60 Revolutions-Per-Minute (RPM) for 5 consecutive seconds. The same test that was performed in testing cycle 2 was then performed 14 days later in testing cycle 3 after the researcher taught Self-Talk intervention in the Self-Talk group.
The researcher intervention in the ST group consisted of a 30-minute introduction to ST as well as a workbook where each participant could highlight motivational ST statements, they had used in the first TTE test and compare them to a list of existing statements in the workbook. They were then asked to compare these statements against a list of 12 motivational statements and select 4 motivational statements from either of the groups to use during the next TTE test. These statements consisted of two statements that would be used in the early stages of the test and two statements that would be used in the later stages of the test. These statements would be used during the 14-day period between testing phases two and three so that the participants could familiarize themselves with the statements and begin to incorporate them into their aerobic activities. The research found the following,
Effect of self-talk on time to exhaustion
“As predicted, motivational self-talk had a significant effect on time-to-exhaustion (group–test interaction, F1,22=8.01,P=0.01,d= 0.69). Follow-up tests revealed that time to exhaustion increased significantly from pretest (637 T210 s) to posttest(751 T295 s) in the self-talk group (PG0.05). Moreover, all but two of the participants randomized to the motivational self-talk intervention improved their time to exhaustion. In comparison, time to exhaustion in the control group did not change significantly across tests” — (Blanchfield, Hardy, De Morree, Staiano, & Marcora, 2014)
Effects of self-talk on cadence, HR, facial EMG amplitude, and RPE at isotime during the TTE test.
“Motivational self-talk had a significant effect on cadence at isotime (group–test–isotime interaction, F2,40=8.34,P= 0.01).”
“…Further follow-up tests revealed that cadence was significantly greater in the self-talk group at 100% isotime during posttest compared with pretest visit (PG0.05). No significant difference between pretest and posttest was found for cadence at 100% isotime in the control group.” — (BLANCHFIELD, HARDY, DE MORREE, STAIANO, & MARCORA, 2014)
As you can see with the research study ST and Motivational ST had a significant effect on the participants in the Self-Talk group, while no significant change was observed in the control group. Another critical element to mention is that the Self-Talk group was given a list of ST phrase choices to pick from that they had previously used, and then 4 specific phrases to practice using over the controlled intervention period. This example lends some level of proof to the notion that the ST that you already experience can be better improved and will better improve overall performance with practice and implementation. To do this there needs to be a methodology in place for identifying the when and how to apply motivational ST or ST in general.
3.4 How Do You Employ Social Engineering Self-Talk?
We have covered research on ST and its effectiveness on performance as well as a couple of books written on the topic of ST and its effectiveness in everyday life. We will now look at the methods used to SE and how we can apply those methods using ST in our daily lives to SE ourselves into achieving success.
‘’Our thoughts are so powerful that they are constantly pushing you toward your goals, even when you don’t realize what those goals actually are! Your brain is wired to win.’’ ~ Gary John Bishop, Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life
Looking at the act of SE-ing, several techniques can be identified that are used to get a target to give out confidential or restricted data or to convince a target to do something that may not be in their best interest. We use the same tools and tactics to influence ourselves into doing things that may or may not benefit us such as quid-pro-quo (give a little here get something in return), consistency, authority, self-validation, and even consensus.
This is not much different than the act of SE-ing someone else. To do this first you must understand what decision you are trying to influence. This section will attempt to provide a few examples of measures that you can take and ST that you can use that will assist you in accomplishing goals and SE-ing yourself into being more productive.
For the purposes of this section Critical Self Talk (CST), will be used to define the negative internal argument, Motivational Self Talk (MST) being the side of the argument we are using to thwart the negative argument, and finally, Affirmative Self Talk (AST) which are the statements asserting the MST. These statements may not seem like SE-ing, so we will take a brief look at each of the following examples provided and compare them to techniques that can be used to SE a target. Each tactic will be highlighted and discussed based on relativity to each section.
Example 1: Quid-Pro-Quo (Mentally and Materialistically)
Quid-Pro-Quo has no secrets, it hides nothing, in this act, you are bribing yourself. How you do so is up to you, it has been proven that you can do this psychologically, and of course materialistically. You can offer yourself a treat to influence success, or simply offer up the opportunity to feel good or know that you have been successful simply by completing the task… and wouldn’t that feel good?
CST — “This is mundane and boring I’ll finish it later.”
MST — “So your task is boring, and you are going to find something more interesting to do for the time being? Honestly, is it going to get any less boring the longer you put it off? Just get it done now and you won’t have to worry about it.”
AST — “I am going to go ahead and take care of this it won’t be any less boring no matter when I do it. Besides once it is complete, I can actually relax for a bit, that would be nice.”
MST — “So your task is boring, and you are going to find something more interesting to do for the time being? Honestly, is it going to get any less boring the longer you put it off? Just get it done now, with nothing to do, maybe you can slide in that shopping you’ve been meaning to do.”
AST — “I am going to go ahead and take care of this it won’t be any less boring no matter when I do it. Besides once it is complete, I can go buy those new shoes I have been eyeing.”
This example of reverberating the concern, validating it, and then rewording the concern so that it appears to be in your own best interest to complete the task now as opposed to later is a great way to influence your thoughts and actions to your benefit. This is a technique used often in SE. We validate the concerns of the target by listening to them and reverberating them back, letting the target know that we have heard and understood them. We then use the targets' own concerns to guide them to a different decision by reframing the conversation, offering up something in return, rather it is the validation we just freely gave, or we are trading something for the request we have made.
Example 2: Consistency
It is no secret that we as humans like to be consistent, we like to appear consistent in our behaviors, we like to be consistent with what we say and do, and we like to use consistency to drive our actions. This is used in the influence of a target and can be used in your own internal persuasion as well. By saying what you will do or what you are going to do and stating that out loud, you can anchor yourself to that action. Doing this will allow you an opportunity to refer back to the actions or words that you have put out into the world creating an opportunity for you to hold yourself accountable. This works because of your need to remain consistent with previous actions or to appear consistent to those in your world.
CST — “I don’t have time to work out, I have so much to do! Besides, who will know anyway”
MST — “You’re work schedule is really tight but honestly, you can trade that hour of T.V. for a short workout, even 30 minutes would be better than nothing. Didn’t you tell Mark and Cynthia you were going to start working out again?”
AST — “I’m working out today, I have 30 minutes I can spare besides, I watch everything on Netflix anyway. I really don’t want to look that person that only talks about their goals but never achieves them.”
This is a great example of validating and reframing. Here, we validate to ourselves that our schedule is tight, we see the concern, and we acknowledge it. We then reframe the conversation to fit the goal and affirm that even 30 minutes would be better than nothing. We further our affirmation by weaving consistency and commitment into the conversation. Consistency is interesting, making a decision and affirming it can direct our actions more than we know. Robert Cialdini in his book ‘Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion’ states,
“We all fool ourselves from time to time in order to keep our thoughts and beliefs consistent with what we have already done or decided.” ~ Robert Cialdini — Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Most times when we have a target in mind, we see these conversations play out in real-time. We feel the push back from the target, and if we have properly planned our pretext, we have the proper tools to mitigate the push back and continue with the dialogue. If we have a way to get the target to agree, or even state the idea and make it their own, they will at most times wish to remain consistent, this effect is no less defined with ourselves. ST and self-motivation are only different in the regards that because it is an internal dialogue, we most often do not feel the pushback that we ourselves participate in, and the side of the conversation we know shouldn’t win, most often does.
Example 3: Authority
The use of authority or authority by reference plays on our need to be certain, and if it comes from an “authority” figure, it has to be right, right? The problem is that we don’t always have a full understanding of what authority actually is, and this allows this thought process to be manipulated. When doing this to ourselves, we are actually using the reference to authority based on our own perceptions. When we do this to others, we are using title or appearance to deliver the perception of authority to the target.
CST — “I don’t know why I even try, everyone else seems to just get it, people see their importance and I can’t get anything right.”
MST — “You are telling yourself that you are no good at your job and you shouldn’t try, that’s your self-defeating attitude again, haven’t you been told you’re a top performer. Your last review, your manager said that your work has been exceptional.”
AST — “I’m going to keep at it, I know my worth, my tasks are always complete, and they are done well. People don’t have to tell me my value I know they see it. My manager has told me he is pleased, I have no need to worry.”
This argument goes back to critical ST and the effects that it can have. We acknowledge and label the attitude. Once we label the attitude, this provides us an opportunity to step back and reconsider the argument. Once we have reconsidered the argument, we affirm our beliefs and assure ourselves that we will keep going. This level of affirmation allows us to push ourselves beyond our critical ST and accomplish the tasks at hand. In addition to the affirmation, we have also given an authoritative view. This is a little different than using authority to SE because instead of acting as the authority figure, we are instead referencing an authority figure. We do this to as an SE, we use terms like “Bob, the accounts manager.” to emphasize authority by reference, we can effectively do this to ourselves by digging deep and finding those references to people we find as authorities on our situation rather it be wife, doctor, friend, or even our managers.
Example 4: Consensus
Consensus is easiest to define as the proclivity of an individual to do what he/she perceives everyone else to be doing. In our example, we will use a birthday party, cake, and pizza, however, it is important to point out that there is a psychological theory at play here known as the psychology of conformity. Solomon Asch performed several experiments in the area of conformity that would later lead to the 1962 candid camera elevator trick “Face the Rear”. The root of this phenomenon is believed to be very similar to the alpha mode we use when tying our shoes, the ability to remain in autopilot for lower-level tasks such as social norms, or group activity so that our brain can handle other higher-level processes.
CST — “You’re at a birthday party, just remember your goals and stay away from the junk food. You have that protein bar in the car, you can have that if you get hungry.”
MST — “Aww come on, you know that cake isn’t going to hurt you, you have run every other day this week and put in an exceptional amount of work this morning. Have a piece of cake! Everyone else is, you are at a birthday party… ”
AST — “I’m having cake, and a slice of pizza, I have run and worked out all week, plus I have only eaten chicken and broccoli for 6 days straight!!! I’ll just pick back up tomorrow. I’m at a birthday party, I would look weird if I didn’t eat cake and party food.”
This argument is backward, that is purposeful. Remember at the beginning of the article, SE-ing is the act of getting someone to do something that is or is not in their best interest… This example shows how we do this to ourselves as well. We are very good at coming up with reasons that we can let ourselves slide. This is like a great pretext where the objective is convincing the target that what we are proposing is in their best interest and everything will be fine. This is important to point out because when it comes to SE-ing ourselves into doing things that we know are not in our best interest, we are the best at it. In this particular example, we have used the technique of consensus and self-validation. First, we validated ourselves by echoing the reminder that we have been diligent all week, and that should be worth something. We then use the tactic of consensus by telling ourselves that it would be weird if we didn’t act like everyone else and have cake and party food.
“When it comes to you, I see clearly. When it comes to myself, I see what I want.” ~ Maria Konnikova, The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time
This all might seem a little far-fetched when comparing this to the internal dialogue that you experience daily, however, the more you become aware of it, the more you will hear these arguments occurring. Try this out the next time you are contemplating a decision, listen to your thoughts and separate the inner opposing arguments. What you will most likely find is that there is a dialogue happening internally that you haven’t ever really noticed before. Once you have realized that this dialogue exists, you can begin to apply reflective reasoning to both sides of the argument and use them as a stone in the critical thinking process crafting your own dialogue to guide you to a successful outcome. You will in effect be SE-ing yourself toward your goals, if that is in fact what you want, some people just want cake and that is ok too.
Your story defines who you are. The good news, you define your story, you do it through action and by driving inner dialogue. The stories you tell yourself to drive your motivations, actions, interactions, and ultimately life. Charles Fernyhough in “The Running Conversation in Your Head” says that these conversations happen at upwards of 4,000 words per minute, approximately ten times faster than verbal dialogue. It is important to note then that ST is a consistent banter that plays internally to assist in the discovery and description of the world around you. ST is also the inner dialogue that assists you in identifying and defining your perception of yourself and what you perceive others to believe about you to yourself.
ST is a tool that should be honed, perfected, and practiced daily because ultimately, it is the way you interface with the world before you interact with the world. ST once harnessed can be the guiding factor between your emotional reactions and your self-sabotage or success. The biggest issue we face as humans is that largely our reactions are driven by our emotions, this is because our emotions drive our internal dialogue. Emotion, however, can be overcome, and ST manipulated, we just must slow down and breathe long enough to regain control of our amygdala and change the dialogue.
Remember the saying, “Fake it until you make it.”
What does that mean exactly? You don’t tell others that you are faking it, you just perform, you put it on display, your actions and your words coincide with what you are “Faking”. While performing these actions externally, internally you are building a narrative and changing your thought patterns. You are quoting the lines you need over and over, telling yourself how to react, when to react, and what to react with. This is the work of ST and internal dialogue on all levels. It is up to you to take control of that internal dialogue, recognize it, and begin to use it as a tool to drive your own success. So, the next time you are in a rut or feeling down on your luck ask yourself, “What story am I telling myself today?”
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