Thursday, May 2, 2013

Self Talk and iPhone Games

Last week I was visiting a friend with whom I often play the obsessive online game of Scramble With Friends. One night as I was checking email, I heard all of this talking. Kids were in bed and it wasn't her voice I heard. "Outstanding, good, good, great" was what I was hearing. Turns out she was playing with her volume turned on. Never one to welcome additional noise, this was a new experience for me. As I play Scramble, it is silent. I stopped and listened for nearly a minute. Affirmations were flying at her left and right. The greatest of which was, "stupendous!"

What would life be like if we had a little soundtrack that provided us positive feedback. Not a conscience that gave us the yea or nay, but a genuine affirmation reinforcing us, cheering us on. Some of you may be cringing with the thought of false compliments... But that is different than what I am describing. You don't get a "stupendous!", you earn it. What I am really talking about something genuine that could combat for what many of us, myself included, is negative self talk.

Self talk is the inner dialogue we have as we go throughout the day. If an error is made on something we created, what do you say in your mind? Is it, "oh, man, that's a bummer."? Or, is it, "I am so stupid, I always do this."? Very easily we beat ourselves up over the smallest of things. And, that kind of fight and negativity becomes a habit. Without much intentional thought, we are there... Reinforcing this horrible, negative message about your greatest asset- you!

We live in a world where criticism is doled out face to face, via text, by tweet. Those messages can impact us. Subtly, but ever present, there are messages to us. "You Failed" is one I recently encountered playing a different iPhone game. While, of course, a game doesn't determine if I have failed (or, more significantly, if I consider myself a failure), there is a power in that message. If I have had a trying week where nothing seems to go right, a fraternity member is angry at me, I was impatient with a friend, and make an error on a project I am tasked with completing... What happens in my mind when I consider it all collectively? My self talk can easily shift to, "What is wrong with me? I am a failure at everything I try. I am so dumb to have made that mistake." In those moments, I need my own cheering section telling me that I am good, great, stupendous! While that personal cheering section doesn't often materialize in the form of people, I can choose to work on my self talk. I can choose to be more patient with myself and talk to myself with the grace and mercy that I deserve.


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