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Leadership Nudge® – How to Talk to Yourself

When talking with others the words we use matter a lot, and they matter when talking to ourselves as well.

Psychologist Ethan Kross has discovered that the manner in which people talk to themselves can have a significant impact on their success in life. We are all familiar with the “I think I can” engine from our childhood stories. Turns out, according to Kross, that using the pronoun “I” when talking to yourself can actually cause you to fluster and perform poorly in stressful situations. Shifting your self-talk and addressing yourself by your name, according to research, greatly improves your chances of maxing out your performance in various tasks from public speaking to self-advocacy.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.47.31 AMKross states that by changing the way we refer to ourselves, we toggle switches in two areas of our brains. First, we flip a switch in the center of thought, the cerebral cortex. Second, we flip a switch in the seat of fear, the amygdala. This “switching” moves us closer to or further from our sense of self and all the attached emotional intensity. This psychological distance enables self-control, allowing us to think clearly and act competently.

So the next time you talk to yourself, try using your name and not I.



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