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The Power Of Self-Talk - Part 2

Updated on October 11, 2009

Human actions are limited to or determined by "environment". Human beings become what they are at any given moment not by their own free decisions, taken rationally and in full knowledge of the conditions, but under the pressure of circumstances which delimit their range of choice and which also fix their objectives and the standards by which they make choices. However, that is not the full story.

It is obvious to even the most jaded or disinterested observer that groups and classes of people have been oppressed by society over the ages and right to the present day. Rather than people admit that their own choices have kept them oppressed, they would rather attribute their failure to what society or the environment that they live in has done to them. However, our culture may cause us to develop a particular self-defeating behavior, but once that behavior is in place, we choose to maintain it. Yes, even though the situation or environment that we find ourselves in may be the worst possible for success, it is our internal self-talk that keeps us there.

Our success and failure through our self-talk pattern can be proven scientifically as well. A number of studies have been conducted with groups of athletes and other people. One of these studies involved 22 young male gymnasts and their use of self-talk and imagery during different events. They stated that the study concluded that gymnasts who had a higher use of self-talk and imagery expectations were more successful than those with lower use of positive affirmations and expectancy.

This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as the Gretzky Effect. For many years, Wayne Gretzky was the single greatest hockey player in the National Hockey League, and many fans maintain that he was the greatest hockey player of all time. What was Wayne's secret? He admitted that he played hockey well because he didn't know of any other way to play hockey. His commitment to excellence was so complete, that his brain didn't even allow the possibility of playing badly to circulate among its neurons!

A 1990 study for the U.S. Rowing Association used an unidentified prominent intercollegiate varsity Men's Rowing Program as subjects: The control group was instructed to develop and use positive self-talk during practice sessions. The conclusion of the study showed a noticeable improvement over the group that used no positive self-talk at all. A study conducted in 1994 took 24 Junior High Tennis players, average age 15 years, and had them practice positive self-talk statements during tournament matches. The players who reported using positive self-talk won more points than players who did not.

The use of negative self-talk is proven to be just as powerful. In 1983, researchers using 32 subjects had them rehearse negative statements and imagery. Their findings came to the conclusion that "Negative anticipations and expectations are associated with less efficient physiological functioning." Which means that they did more poorly when they purposely used negative self-talk.

What these research studies show is that there is a direct correlation between positive and negative self-talk and performance. Using positive or negative self-talk consciously does improve or decrease performance outcomes. Now imagine billions of people whose self-talk is unharnessed or uncontrolled and what effect it has on their lives.

Continued In The Power Of Self-Talk - Part 3

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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      Thanks squared!

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 8 years ago from Sunny Spain

      I know this through experience as there are certain areas of my life that I use this negative self talk and it is self perpetuating.

    • jiberish profile image

      jiberish 8 years ago from florida

      Dale Carnegie has a piece in one of his books on this. Great. Going to part 3.