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become aware of what you're saying to yourself
by Jim Will, Ph.D.

Before you can control your self-talk, you need to become aware of what you're saying to yourself and of the attitudes and beliefs that you hold as true. 

Beliefs can be strong, especially if you've had them for a number of years. The fact that you've always believed something doesn't mean it's necessarily true and correct. It might be – or it might not be. You've accumulated beliefs and attitudes from other people all during your life and, most likely, you reinforce them with your self-talk.

It's not just individual people who do this. Groups of people like organizations, corporations, and cities have beliefs and attitudes that they have accumulated and that they reinforce with self-talk among themselves. Groups, as well as individuals, can have self-images. Think about the self-talk that you might see in newspapers about your city's self-image. Think about the self-talk that you hear in the coffee room at your company, reflecting the company's self-image. Family groups do this too.

What beliefs do you have that you might have held for years? Think about where you got those beliefs and whether they're actually based in fact. When you evaluate your beliefs, you might find that you have been operating under some misconceptions that, when corrected, will make some aspects of your life much easier.

Attitudes and opinions have a power of their own; they derive their power not from truth but from our belief in them. I was speaking to a group of people in Lafayette, Louisiana, and I asked them, "How many of you believe in Voodoo?" They were hesitant at first, but finally about half of the audience raised their hands. So I asked them, "Why does Voodoo work?" Again, they hesitated but eventually agreed that it works, "Because we believe in it." These people realized that belief can give power to a persuasion that actually has no power other than the faith of the
participants. When I was giving a seminar in Ecuador, I asked the same question and got the same answer. We confer power on our beliefs by our faith in them.