Using Self-Talk to Empower Ourselves for Change

The way we talk to ourselves can clue us into where we are in terms of our true desire to make change. We can use these words to also help identify where barriers may persist, which can then help with choosing the appropriate type of motivation.  Using this knowledge, we’ll also have the ability to rephrase our self-talk when needed, encouraging us to embark on change through the reframing done with our words. It’s helpful to have a general understanding of the stages of change. Using the Transtheoretical Model, there are five stages. 

This post is primarily focused on the contemplation, preparation, and action stages. The two acronyms that can be used as tools for identification and progress are DARN CAT ?

DARN language relates to our desire, ability, reason, and need for change, and occurs in the contemplation and preparation stages. CAT language is used to for commitment, activation, and taking steps, and occurs as part of the preparation and action stages. How about a couple of quick examples? 

Let’s say I want to start a side-hustle, but have been stuck in the precontemplation phase because I know it’s going to require a lot of change and sacrifice. And risk is scary, right?! If I’m saying to myself “I *wish* I could start this side hustle,” that is an indication of my direct desire to do so – likely an unmet need; part of who I truly am. If I were to say to myself “I’m not sure I *could* start this side hustle,” that would indicate my perceived ability to do so. And if I were to say to myself “It *may help* me feel better about my self-worth” would indicate reasoning and rationale for this change. 

We can use this knowledge to help us plan, make sure we are working to meet root needs rather than surface desires, and tackle real and perceived barriers to transition to the next stage. 

Oh, you wanted a couple more examples? Ohhhhkay!

Keeping with the side hustle example, I may transition language from saying “I wish” to “I *will* start my side hustle,” as an indication of my  level of commitment. I may then say “I *am ready* to start my side hustle,” to push myself forward into activation from commitment. Remember, thoughts first; actions second! And once I’ve taken that very first step, I can say “I *have started* taking baby steps to my bigger goals.”

Once we’ve taken steps, there is likely to be a degree of discomfort. That doesn’t mean we should stop, but this is where it gets tough; this is where most of us slip up once or twice and then give up for good. Next week I will run through some distress tolerance methods – basically, ways we can deal with being uncomfortable so that we can set ourselves up for long-term health, wellness, and success at literally anything we want out of life. 



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