tony S Stark

That critical voice in your head. Always telling you how you’re screwing up. Always putting you in the worst-case-scenario at the fore front of your mind. We all have it. (I call it “Mini- Trumpsaurus.”)

Let’s break down these Voices in your Noggin. 

What if YOU don’t need fewer voices in your head — what if you need more of them? (Crank up the the crazy kooky annoying-as-all-hell- voices.) 

A plethora of evidence supports that the right voices in your head can make you confident, more intelligent and more- well, buoyant from daily life struggles.

When you want to muster your energy or self-control for a challenge, you might say, “I can do it.” And if that’s what you’re saying, well, I’d reply, “No, actually. No, you can’t.”

Because here’s what the crazy kooky: research shows talking to yourself using the word “you” is more powerful than using the word “I.” 

Mr Google says, 

Altogether, research showed that second-person self-talk strengthens both actual behavior performance and prospective behavioral intentions more than first-person self-talk.

So let’s break this down. 

That person inside your head. (The one I call “Mini- Trumpsaurus.” And the one I hope you’ve named at this point too) actually has more power to get your little kiester moving than “you” talking to “you.” 

So now are you interested? You better be because it’s about to go DOWN. 

Pull your phone just a little closer to your face now. We’re putting a Brain Trust together — but they’re all in your one brain. Here are the three voices you need chattering away in your head…

The Voice That Makes You Bouyant 

Now, grab your Pom poms, throw on some school spirit and DANCE. Yupp, that’s right- you need a cheerleader in your noggin. 

Who’s someone that has always believed in you? Who always had your back? Someone who believed in you more than you did.

That’s the voice you need to keep you going when things get tough.

And where’s the proof that you need a cheerleader? 

Well, let’s try a different approach. Rip off your cheerleading uniform and throw on that military gear. You need a Navy SEAL.

Those guys are pretty much the definition of grit. And one of their secrets to persistence is the positive voices in their heads. 

So what does Mr.Google say about this, 

“A Navy study uncovered a number of things that people with grit do—often unconsciously—that keep them going when things get hard. One of them comes up in the psychological research again and again: “positive self-talk.” Yes, Navy SEALs need to be badass, but one of the keys to that is having a little Toy train inside your head. You know, “The little train that could” In your head, you say between three hundred and a thousand words every minute to yourself. (This drives writers crazy!!! Maybe that’s why I’m crazy and I don’t have a lot of friends??) Anyways, Those words can be positive or negative. It turns out that when these words are positive, they have a huge effect on your mental toughness, your ability to keep going. Subsequent studies of military personnel back this up. When the Navy started teaching BUD/S applicants to speak to themselves positively, combined with other mental tools, BUD/S passing rates increased from a quarter to a third.

I know what some people might be thinking: “I’m not an elite military operator fighting terrorists machine, so how does this apply to me?” Because grit is grit, dudes and dudettes.

Positive self- talk doesn’t just work for guys with guns, (or gals with guns) it also works for employees and managers in offices:

Mrs Google says 

Dr. Manz and Dr. Sims have suggested the potential of self-talk as a self-influencing tool for improving the personal effectiveness of employees and managers. Various studies in a number of different fields have provided support for the relationship between an individual’s self-talk and performance. 

Alright…. so you’ve got a supportive cheerleader chattering away in your head saying, “You can do it.” Awesome. But what if it’s not an issue of Bouyancy? What if the challenges ahead call for some extra brainpower?

The Voice That Makes You Smarter

You know this voice pretty well: it’s your own. But you actually need to talk out loud to get the benefits. (So take temperature of your surroundings. People might find you a little peculiar.)

Hey Mr Google drop some knowledge bombs on us. 

When older adults think out loud their intelligence scores shoot up dramatically:

Performance gains on this task were note worthy. An increase of nearly one standard deviation. Which means nearly 72 percent. Which means- Keep talking out loud. This creates a huge boost in your ability to remember things you read:

The production effect is the best benefit to memory of having studied information aloud as opposed to silently.

Want to learn a new skill? Keep yakking:

…self-talk is a technique which mostly improves concentration. Self-talk is more effective for novel tasks rather than well-learned tasks; because it is easier to improve at the early steps of learning.

Alright, you’ve got two voices going and now you’re grittier and smarter. But what if the problem isn’t about improving performance?

What if you just don’t feel good about yourself? You’re down like Debby Downer and maybe you’re feeling guilty or you just have low self-esteem. 

Third voice, coming up!

Let’s do this! 

My favorite subject ever: CONFIDENCE

The Voice That Makes You Feel Better About Yourself

Everybody always wants to improve confidence. If people just felt more confident, they’d be better at their jobs, be better leaders, be better friends, be better sex partners and kids wouldn’t smoke, drink, take drugs, or get bad grades. The world would be cool as fuck. 

Well, too bad that’s not true….. Research shows confidence doesn’t cause all those good things. It’s just a side effect of healthy behavior. So artificially ramping it doesn’t work.

Queen Google Bee says 

“In one influential review of the self-confidence literature, it was concluded that high self-esteem actually did not improve academic achievement or job performance or leadership skills or prevent children from smoking, drinking, or taking drugs. If anything, high self-esteem appears to be the consequence rather than the cause of healthy behaviors.”

What what???????

What does confidence do? 

Turn you into Tony Motha Effin Stark

It increases narcissistic behaviors. So what do we need instead of self-esteem?

Self-compassion. Stop lying to yourself that you’re so awesome. Instead, focus on forgiving yourself when you’re not. 

It’s a hard pill to swallow. I know. I’m trying it now. 

So why does compassion succeed where self-esteem fails? Because self-esteem is always delusional, which leads to good things. To always feel like you’re awesome you need to either divorce yourself from reality or be on a treadmill of constantly proving your value. At some point you won’t measure up, which then craters your self-esteem. Not to mention relentlessly proving yourself is exhausting and unsettling. Self-compassion lets you see the facts and accept that you’re not perfect. As famed psychologist Albert Ellis once said, “Self-esteem is the greatest sickness known to man or woman because it’s conditional.” People with self-compassion don’t feel the need to constantly prove themselves, and research shows they are less likely to feel like a “loser.”

And that leads us to our third voice: Grandmomma

You don’t need the booming voice of self-esteem in your head. You need that warm, forgiving voice of Grandmomma telling you that, yeah, you screwed up, but we all do. It’ll be okay.

You’re tougher, smarter and you feel good about yourself. All three of you. So let me round this up…

  • The Cheerleader: If positive self-talk helps Navy SEALs get through training, it’ll help you get through the workday.
  • Talk out loud: You might look weird doing it, but it can make you smarter, improve your memory and help you learn skills faster.
  • Grandmomma: You messed up. And Grandmomma’s soothing voice told you it was okay. Give her a permanent place in that noggin of yours.