Tuesday, 15 July 2014
You Can Do It
Ever tried talking to your self when the going gets tough? Maybe you should. This technique known as ‘self talk’ has been shown to improve self control and boost morale. However when your back is to the wall, a deadline is hurdling towards you and the pressure is on, are you better off telling yourself ‘You can do it!’ or ‘I can do it!’?
The BPS reports on some worked done by Sanda Dolcos from the University of Illinois which seems to favour the ‘You’ approach. She got 95 psychology undergrads to imagine they were a character in a short story. The characters were presented with a number of choices and decisions to make. The students were asked to write out the advice they would give to themselves if they were in a similar situation. Half the participants were instructed to use the first-person "I" in their self-advice, the others to use the second-person "You". Once they had given their advice, the participants completed a series of anagrams. Those who'd given their fictional selves advice using "You" completed more anagrams than those who'd used the first person "I" (17.53 average completion rate vs. 15.96).
In a similar study, 135 students were asked to write down self-advice to encourage exercising more over the next two weeks. Those who referred to themselves as "You" in that advice subsequently stated that they planned to do more exercise over the next two weeks, and they also went on to report more positive attitudes towards exercising, than those students who referred to themselves as "I".
Referring to yourself as ‘You’ seems to be the way to go. One possible reason for this could be that it reminds us of receiving support and encouragement from others, especially in childhood. It may also be a little more assertive, as if you are ordering yourself to behave in a certain way.
Either way, when an awkward software bug lands on your desk or the boss drops a ridiculous presentation on you at short notice or your budget gets slashed, tell yourself ‘You can do it’. Maybe you can or maybe you can’t but however hard is, your chances may be improved.