How often do you berate yourself? Tell yourself off for being an idiot / always being late / putting your foot in it / wishing you’d not said that / failing to hit a goal / missing an opportunity.

As the quote says, we talk to ourselves far more than we talk to anyone else…but we forget to be nice. Half the things we say to ourselves we would never say to another person – why is that? The reality is we know it would affect them negatively; it could affect their confidence, it could cause needless upset, anguish or, in the worst case, emotional and mental harm. Harsh criticism stunts growth, kills creativity and stifles enthusiasm.

What people don’t realise when they talk to themselves this way is that they are silently sabotaging their performance – both now and in the future. Neuro psychologists believe our behaviours affect our brain and the thoughts generated by our brain affect how we feel. Therefore, negative input leads to negative thoughts leads to negative feelings about our capabilities. And if that’s how we feel about ourselves, it is unlikely we’ll try again.

So, how do you talk to someone you love when they are feeling discouraged or feel like they have just made a mistake? Typically, you would be highlighting how this was just one episode, it is just feedback, an opportunity to learn. You’d support them in trying again and point out all the great things they have achieved already in their lives. Even if “tough love” was your approach of choice, it would include an element of compassion! We do this for a number of reasons; it makes us feel good to help others, we know it will have provide much needed encouragement and, most of the time, it leads to a better frame of mind, better focus, a brighter attitude and, usually, improved performance.

Listen out for how you are talking to the person you really should love the most in this world. Stand up for yourself! Come to the rescue of that brilliant person who may just need an extra ounce of encouragement to shine.

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