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  • Writer's pictureSteph

Self-talk for your job search - 5 Tips you can use today

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The way we talk to ourselves is one of the biggest influences on success and happiness

Talking to ourselves with kindness and support is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves. Many factors color the narrative going through our minds at any given time. If your internal monologue is less than supportive, first, offer yourself compassion; it's not like you 'chose' it to be that way. It might not have been a conscious decision at all. The good news is that with some self-awareness and openness to do things a little differently, we can learn to talk to ourselves with a sense of support and empathy, giving ourselves exactly what we need most. I've become more interested in the power of self-talk in my own personal growth and in working with clients on their job searches, leadership development, and work goals. I think it's safe to say that most of us are usually too hard on ourselves and overly critical. This can make a tough situation even more difficult because this negative, unsupportive narrative can thwart our efforts, halt progress, and make us feel even worse.

Positive self-talk doesn't have to be inauthentic and it is not the same as toxic positivity (which I don't recommend!). Effective self-talk recognizes all that we've been through and helps us approach our circumstances with more empathy and understanding. This can be highly nourishing and motivating.

The opposite is also true; unhelpful self-talk feeds self-doubt, reinforces a sense of stuckness, and makes us feel unworthy of our wishes and goals.

Here are five of my favorite tips to improve your self-talk.

1 - Treat positive self-talk like learning a new language.

Thoughts come into our minds countless times per day. Start by using mindfulness to recognize that these are simply mental events and not facts.

A mentor once gave me this response to challenging thoughts: 'Is it true, kind, or helpful?'

Most of our thoughts don't pass this simple and poignant question.

Becoming mindful of the thoughts that come into our minds and how we respond is a tremendous first step to then shifting our self-narrative.

2 - Learn to talk to yourself in the same way you would speak to a good friend.

I love this litmus test; would you say that to a dear friend? The concept of talking to ourselves like we would a good friend comes from legendary Dr. Kristin Neff, Ph.D. a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, and an expert, author, researcher, and leader in self-compassion.

When you're considering taking the next step or have a new idea for your job search, take a moment and pretend you are talking to a good friend. What would you say to encourage and support them? What would you not say?

Offer yourself kindness and self-compassion. Job searching is one of the most challenging goals with much outside of our control. We can learn to provide ourselves with core support and phrases like, 'You're doing a great job' and 'I'm here for you, I support you 100%' and 'I know this is hard and I'm so proud of you'. Most of all, endorse the effort, as the saying goes. Focus on what you can control and the positive steps you take, giving you a better sense of agency and empowerment.

3 - Spend time with supportive and encouraging people.

Learning to talk to ourselves with kindness and support can take time, and it might feel new and different if it's not what we've experienced. Surrounding yourself with people who speak the language of support and encouragement can be illuminating and beneficial.

The more we hear how kind language sounds towards our ideas, wishes, and dreams, the more we will emulate this for our own internal narrative.

We mirror and absorb the messages around us, so it's important to regularly assess if the people in your inner circle are helping to cultivate a warm inner narrative. Friends, family, and partners can be helpful, but the truth is, those closest to us may not have done a job search in a long time or be in your particular industry. They really might not understand, much as they want to. We are still in a pandemic job market and things have changed significantly. This is where skilled career coaches, licensed therapists, and trusted mentors in your field of interest can be invaluable sources of strategy, support, and healthy well-being.

Community is essential to combat the loneliness and isolation of a job search. Stay connected with others, and consider adding some new, supportive voices to your life.

4 - Effective, loving self-talk can be a game-changing motivator.

The research consistently shows that we are motivated by positive reinforcement, not by someone being negative in our ears or tearing us down. The same is true for our self-talk.

If you tell yourself that whatever it is in your job search 'will never work' or 'no one will ever me,' it makes it almost impossible to muster the energy needed to take positive action steps. Because, if you 'think' something can't be done, why even try?

More helpfully, if you tell yourself that 'each task brings you one step closer to your goal' and that 'it's only a matter of time before you get hired' and that 'I only need one great job,' it becomes more possible to believe that effort will ultimately bring results.

Think about some of the best teachers or supervisors you've had; these are people who encourage us, inspire our creativity, and support our self-worth. They also encourage work-life balance; similarly, you can replicate this for your self-talk style and your job search.

5 - Create a work vision that you like.

Great communication also involves listening with an open heart. If you notice your self-talk is unusually negative, it may be that your goal isn't something that fits. Maybe your values, interests, or needs have changed, and that's okay(!) We grow and are shaped by life. What if your self-talk is trying to alert you that something in your work vision needs to be tweaked or that deep down you want a new vision altogether? It's common for things to shift or to outgrow something; perhaps what we wanted at one time was perfectly suitable and even desirable, but now we want something else. This is great insight!

If this resonates, take time to explore, revamp, and reinvent a new work vision that feels more aligned, and then develop a job search strategy that fits your updated vision. This can turn the tide in monumental ways, as it's always easier to put effort into something YOU want to do or see happen.

Try these out and see what happens. I wish you the best of luck in redefining work and creating a life you love.

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