…’Every facet, every compartment of your mind is to be programmed by you. If you don’t take your rightful responsibility and program your own mind, the world will program it for you.’ Gregg Swanson

Self-talk is a common activity virtually every human being engages in regardless of their language or cultural heritage. It can be positive or negative, helpful or a hindrance and is often regarded as a KEY component to individual success. All mental training programs of any consequence incorporate methods for improving self-talk and the discipline required to keep it productive. The following is a tool designed to monitor the quality of your self-talk and assess its usefulness.

Consider each factor on a 1 – 10 scale with the descriptors being polar opposites.

PASSIVE Self-Talk ACTIVE Self-Talk
Self-talk can help us keep an ACTIVE FOCUS on the TASK AT HAND – or – it can serve as a distraction through a PASSIVE FOCUS on people or things that take our attention away from where we need it to be.
PROCESS ORIENTED Self-Talk OUTCOME ORIENTED Self-Talk
An OUTCOME FOCUS keeps our attention on the PRIZE – while – a PROCESS FOCUS channels our attention on to the specific tasks required to achieve that success.
RANDOM Self-Talk PURPOSEFUL Self-Talk
Self-talk can be comprised of PURPOSEFUL statements that reinforce how and what we pay attention to. It can also serve as an opportunity to provide commentary on RANDOM thoughts.
PAST Self-Talk PRESENT Self-Talk
Self-talk can appear in any tense – past / present / future. PAST focus rehashes what has already been DONE or an outcome that has already been determined. PRESENT focus stays in the moment and deals with WHAT IS – or – what we are actively choosing to pay attention to.
PRESENT Self-Talk FUTURE Self-Talk
Self-talk can appear in any tense – past / present / future. FUTURE focus envisions what we do OR what we don’t want to occur. PRESENT focus stays in the moment and deals with WHAT IS – or – what we are actively choosing to pay attention to.
DESTRUCTIVE Self-Talk CONSTRUCTIVE Self-Talk
Self-talk can come from a CONSTRUCTIVE focus – with attention given to what we are in the process of CREATING. Yet, many times the ‘chatter’ inside our head has a DESTRUCTIVE focus – is critical, accusatory, negative and part of a self-directed beat down.
EVALUATIVE Self-Talk INSTRUCTIVE Self-Talk
Self-talk can serve an INSTRUCTIVE focus – where the interactive internal conversation is helpful in learning, acquiring new skills, or adapting skills used in another way. It is also true that Self-talk can have an EVALUATIVE focus…being fairly or unfairly judgmental and/or analytical in its nature.
NEGATIVE SELF-EXPECTATION POSITIVE SELF-EXPECTATION
Self-talk can support confidence through a POSITIVE self-expectation. This is not to be confused with cockiness, which will be examined in the next pairing. A positive expectation focuses on seeing ourselves BEING successful. A NEGATIVE self-expectation focuses on seeing our mistakes and flaws of execution.
PESSIMISTIC Self-talk OPTIMISTIC Self-talk
Self-talk can focus on an OPTIMISTIC experience with a favorable expectation of the experience- whether winning or losing. Also, Self-talk can focus be PESSIMISTIC assuming the worst in outcome.

In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility. – Eleanor Roosevelt

By Stephen Walker, PhD © 2013