Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Why talking to yourself is the best (and simplest) kind of motivation

iStock_94900999_LARGE.jpg

Whether it’s the burble of an interior monologue or the odd out-loud mumble, everybody talks to themselves. And that’s a good thing. What’s known in psychology as ‘self-talk’ can be a valuable way of boosting memory, sorting through emotions, and remaining calm in stressful situations.

And according to a major new British study, it’s also the most effective motivational method around.

In an experiment run in conjunction with BBC Lab UK, over 44,000 people played a competitive online game, using different motivational techniques to see which one was most effective.

Three groups tested different methods to see which would be the most useful: self-talk, imagery, and ‘if-then’ planning. Researchers found that people who used ‘self-talk’ to motivate themselves – for example, reassuring themselves, “I can do better next time” – performed better than the control group in every part of the task.

Essentially, you’re much more likely to succeed if you tell yourself: “I’ve got this.”

ak

Anna Kendrick in Up In The Air: dealing with competitiveness in business

‘If-then’ planning – that is, telling yourself, “If X happens, then I will do Y” – has been shown to be a powerful method of helping with weight management and other challenges. However, it wasn't found to be a particularly effective method of motivation in this study, suggesting that it might not be so useful in competitive situations.

The experiment was led by Professor Andrew Lane, professor of sport psychology at the University of Wolverhampton. He described the results as “inspirational and educational”.

Writing in the Frontiers in Psychology journal, Professor Lane and his colleagues point out the importance of being able to motivate ourselves in a competitive environment – because whether we’re taking part in sports, going for a job interview or making a business deal, competition is a part of life.

Delivering “psychological skills that help people regulate emotions and cope with the demands of competition” through interventions such as online games “would have large appeal”, the researchers write.

Since the study took place, Professor Lane and his colleagues have been working on online games to help people manage their emotions and motivation in a range of contexts – from speaking in public to fighting in a boxing ring.

Image: iStock

Related

iStock_66289901_LARGE.jpg

Meet the women who ditched corporate careers to change the world

support.jpg

A leg up: uplifting quotes on the power of women helping one another

Serena Williams.jpg

15 incredible sportswomen to follow

Coffee lady original_clean.jpg

Spending 20 minutes with this app could boost your career

ThinkstockPhotos-467866356.jpg

We uncover the hidden benefits of talking to yourself

charlotte-olympia.jpg

Wise words from successful women

iStock_000073776827_Medium.jpg

Does working from home really give you a better work-life balance?

iStock_000041408032_Medium.jpg

Using Parkinson’s Law to your benefit: more work, less procrastination

Main_rt.jpg

Katy B on working with women, London life, and starting a book club

More

“Why I opted out of reconstruction after my double mastectomy”

Breast cancer survivor Jeanne Paul says many don’t understand her choice

by Amy Swales
21 Aug 2017

Carpool Karaoke gets a Game of Thrones makeover

The Starks are in town

by Amy Swales
21 Aug 2017

How the solar eclipse could completely transform your life

An astrologer tells us how to tap into the ‘magical powers’ of tonight’s eclipse

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Aug 2017

Lidl is selling £3.33 bottles of prosecco – but there’s a catch

Bring on the bubbles

by Megan Murray
21 Aug 2017

Singer stops concert to expertly shame man for sexual assault

“It is not your f**king body and you do not f**king grab at someone!”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Aug 2017

Why that Game of Thrones infertility storyline is so very important

This article contains spoilers, obviously

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Aug 2017

“I’m child-free, not childless – why the difference matters”

One writer on how our language shames women who choose not to procreate

21 Aug 2017

High school boys support female students against sexist dress code

And this is how it’s done

by Megan Murray
21 Aug 2017

Why people are posting cat photos in response to the Barcelona attacks

There’s a reason behind the influx of felines online

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Aug 2017

The deadly secret hidden within that creepy Game of Thrones hug

Spoilers are coming…

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017