Sometimes you have to give yourself a pep talk!

You know, sometimes you just need a pep talk and there is no one else around. That happened to me this morning. My fibromyalgia was in a total flare. I was in pain. I was feeling tired and defeated. I was all alone in my car. I needed a pick me up just to face the day. What did I do? I gave myself one! I reminded myself that this fibro thing was nothing new and that I even had it before I was sick with cancer last year. I dealt with it before. I told myself in the third person, “Laura. You got this. You know what to do. Hydrate. Get mentally strong. Take an nsaid. Move forward!.” So, that’s what I did. You can too.

So, let’s talk about what a pep talk is. A pep talk is defined as a strong, encouraging, emotional talk to a person or a group, intended to arouse enthusiasm, and increase determination to move forward to succeed. They can build morale, refocus everybody and help to rebuild teams. Did you know that there are scientific studies looking at the phenomenon of pep talks everywhere from the workplace to the ball field. They all say the same thing. A pep talk is the key to bringing new energy to any situation or goal.

Well that sounds fantastic for a group setting, but how about a solo setting? Can you really give one to yourself? You can! I read this great article in Medium from Jan 2020 that describes science-backed strategies for self- boosting. Let’s talk about it.

Dr. Benjamin Rosenberg, a psychology professor at Dominican University, says that “giving oneself a pep talk (self-talk) actually has an advantage over getting a pep talk from someone else.” The advantage is that, for the most part, we trust ourselves over anyone else so who better to pump us up than ourselves? Self-talk has been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on self-confidence and self- efficacy. In other words, it helps us to believe that we have what it takes to get the goal at hand accomplished successfully.

So, how do we go about it? First step: take note of your symptoms. Talk silently to yourself. This can decrease the anxiety side effects that often creep up before we have to perform or do something. This helps us to decrease the cognitive anxiety, negative, or repetitive thoughts.

Second, dampen down the fear by separating it from your task. For example, tell yourself that if your hands are feeling clammy before a speech that you just have a little bit of stage fright. It does not mean that you are going to mess up the speech.

Third, get some distance for yourself. It sounds weird, but one of the best pep talk strategies for yourself is to talk about yourself in the third person. That sounds totally bizarre right? The logic behind it is that we are more comfortable thinking about other people than we are about analyzing ourselves. Therefore if we refer to ourselves in the third person, it helps us control our emotions better. There should be less emotional reactivity.

Fourth, make sure you have reviewed your own plan. This type of strategy breaks down into the motivational (“You’ve got this”) and the instructional (review all the necessary steps before doing them). Don’t let yourself get all jittery because you are not prepared.

Fifth, give yourself compliments and be generous with them! This is not the time to embrace your negative self-image. Tell yourself how qualified you are. Tell yourself that you are prepared. Apparently it works even better if you can do THIS in the third person as well. Honestly, I would just have a reserve of positive things to say about yourself that you can use any any time, for any situation.

Those are the basics according to Dr. Rosenberg. I think they are really on point plus now you have a legitimate excuse any time anyone catches you talking to yourself! Lol. Just kidding. Bottom line is that pep talk really do work. They are not just the fabrication of inspirational movies. They work in real life too and if no one else is around, just do one for yourself! You got this!

Dr. Katz

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