I ended up doing some research last week, trying to flesh out an important character in my Young Adult novel who has down syndrome. What I found was a wealth of amazing people who either have down syndrome, or live with someone who does. As I read their stories, I couldn't help but be up-lifted by their ability to focus on what really mattered. One article especially struck a cord with me, not just because of the author's sister, but also because of what it reminded me about something she called self talk.
Self talk is those moments when you start an internal dialogue with yourself. Many people with down syndrome have this conversation out loud and the author reflected on how much strength these reassuring conversations gave her sister. I thought about times I use self talk and the first thing that came to mind was spinning class.
Sometimes at spinning, I am so tired and I can't believe how slow time goes. I find myself thinking, "Don't look at the clock, it'll only make it worse." Other times I'm surprised by being able to do something I couldn't before. I think something like, "Wow, your legs are getting strong! You can do anything!" Of course I know that's not true, but when you're thirty minutes into a vigorous bike ride and the instructor is yelling, "Give me one hundred percent! Sprint it out!", you learn quickly not to let in any negative self talk.
But my self talk isn't always positive. What about those times when I think things like, "Why on earth did you take up writing? You'll never be any good." or "You've got to be the worst mom. That's the third TV show he's watched today!" As I read this article I realized how often I let in the negative. I know not to think certain things at spinning, the downward spiral is quick and painful. But what about the rest of my life? Is there a similar downward spiral there? How much more could I accomplish if I shut down my negative self talk and replaced it with good?
What would I get done with my writing if I thought things like, "You are smart enough to figure out how to fix this problem. You can do it." What if instead of giving up on myself when I make a mistake, I thought, "This is why there's repentance. Get back up and try again." If I thought "Wow, great job not loosing your patience that time," how much easier would it be to keep my patience the next time? I think maybe I'd be amazed at what I could accomplish.
So what are some of your favorite self talk phrases? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Meanwhile, if you need a little more inspiration, check out this article by Rae Rein "A Sister's Reflection on Self Talk."