The right way to speak to yourself

I’m always on the lookout for ways to build people up and encourage them, rather than shutting them down. That’s why Peter Bregman’s post The Right Way to Speak to Yourself delighted me. Excerpt:

It felt so good to be in that classroom, I didn’t want to leave. Eventually though, when it was clearly time to go, I left with a smile on my face that remained long after I had gone.

Sitting in that classroom was a lesson in people management; the positive way Dorit interacted with the children is a great model for how managers should interact with employees.

But, for me, the morning was more profound than a lesson in managing other people. It was a lesson in managing myself.

As I left the classroom I found myself thinking about whether I treat myself the way Dorit treated her students. Am I encouraging? Do I catch myself doing things right as often as doing things wrong? And when I do something wrong, do I simply move on or do I dwell on it, haranguing myself?

In other words, what kind of classroom is going on in your head?

We’ve all heard the notion that we’re our own harshest critic. But shouldn’t we treat ourselves with at least the same respect shown by a first grade teacher toward her students? Why don’t we?

Possibly it’s because we grow up in an academic setting that emphasizes critique over admiration. Perhaps it feels arrogant — unseemly even — to speak to ourselves with the effusive praise and positivity that Dorit spoke to her class. It might even feel dangerous to go easy on ourselves. If we did, maybe we wouldn’t accomplish anything at all. Maybe we’d devolve into laziness.

But laziness is not what I saw in that classroom. Those children couldn’t have been more motivated to get the right answer. They tried hard. When they got the right answer, they felt good about themselves. When they got a wrong answer, they didn’t linger in shame, they simply moved on to the next question (which, as it happens, is probably the number one behavior that leads to success over time). And they were happy.

In other words, it’s not simply nice to treat ourselves nicely, it’s strategic.

Read the rest of Peter’s article

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