We all talk to ourselves all day long and often throughout the night. Sometimes, we’re beating ourselves. Sometimes we’re talking nicely. In either case, our self-talk is often a way of coaching ourselves so we can get what we want out of life.
But are we doing a good job?
We know we need to watch the negative stuff, and that’s hard enough.
But what about the good stuff we say to ourselves?
We may set goals and repeat positive affirmations.
“I will master the guitar during the next year.”
“I will find the love of my life.”
Maybe we read that affirmations work better if we put them in the present tense.
“I have found the love of my life and am masterfully playing the guitar.”
Present tense and efficient.
But can we do better? Research, new and old, suggests we can.
University of Illinois researchers found that, “Will I master the guitar during the next year?” is much more powerful and successful than, “I will master the guitar during the next year.”
“Will I find the love of my life?” is better than, “I will find the love of my life.”
The questions open deeper levels of possibility and commitment in test subjects, while the “I will” statements bring up resistance and guilt.
Buddhist prayers, or affirmations, often begin with “may”. “May my heart be filled with loving kindness.”
It’s not exactly a question, but it’s close, and it has a very different feel from, “My heart is filled with loving kindness.”
The question is expansive and open to something bigger than us.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”
Again, it’s not a question. There is faith in it, but it is a request, a deep form of asking.
Genius. Genie. God. Maybe you can get what you want out of life, but you’ll have a better chance if you know how to ask. And how to work your butt off.