Self-Talk and Self-Care
“I got this!” “I can figure it out!” How often do you hear yourself saying something like that to yourself when you’re facing something difficult? I hope you do! However, if your self-talk tends to be more along the lines of “Forget it!” “My brain just doesn’t work like that,” or “That was dumb/stupid/etc,” you’re not alone. As we discussed Chapter 10 of The Growth Mindset Coach as a staff, many of us agreed that we often tend toward negative self-talk and need to make an effort in this area.
One of the objectives for Chapter 10 is for the reader to understand how self-talk plays a role in developing a growth mindset. The authors used the following story to introduce the idea of how the growth and fixed mindsets are both in our heads, battling for control of our thoughts.
“There’s a well-known Cherokee legend that tells the story of a grandfather talking to his grandson about life. The grandfather tells the grandson that he has two wolves inside him. One wolf is evil – it is greed, envy, hatred, arrogance, and darkness. The other wolf is good – it is generosity, hope, love, humility, and light. These two wolves – the good and the evil – are at battle within all people, the grandfather tells his grandson. The grandson looks at the grandfather and asks, “Which wolf wins?” And the grandfather replies, “The one you feed.” (p.175)
As parents we need help our kids find replacement truths for their negative self-talk. This could be something to work on together. Create a two-column chart. In one column list the negative (fixed mindset) things you and/or your child tend to say to yourselves. In the second column fill in a growth mindset response to that fixed mindset thinking. For example, a fixed mindset might say, “I’m no good at this, why even try?” The growth mindset could counter, “If I try, I’ll get better bit by bit.” The authors also suggest having kids name their fixed mindsets with silly names such as Negative Nelly or Stinky Cheese Man, and talk back to them when they catch themselves in a fixed mindset pattern of thinking.
We discussed how much we as parents need to remember the power of self-talk when we are feeling overwhelmed. The way we talk to ourselves, positive or negative, is a model our kids are watching. How do we respond when we are frustrated? We need to be careful with our words and tones and facial expressions – kids pick up on these things!
Chapter 11s mantra is one that I needed to hear, and perhaps many others do too: “I can’t take care of others if I don’t take care of myself!” In this special role of mother and teacher, you give endlessly to your children, to your family, to other people. And at times you feel like there’s nothing left to give. That’s okay. You actually do need to take care of yourself, too. Really. I’ve recently benefitted from hearing of an older and wiser mother recommending doing “something every day for 15 minutes just purely because you enjoy it.”
Reflection and relaxation/renewal are the focus of this chapter. The authors list many questions to help readers reflect on their learning about growth mindset and their attempts to put it into practice. This is also a great time to stop and reflect on your school year. Whether on paper or talking it through with a mentor or friend, taking the time to reflect can really take your learning and growth to the next level, as well as jump-start planning for next year in a growth mindset!
The authors suggest using the summer months to build good habits in each of four “dimensions”: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual. Their ideas include exercise, yoga, sleep, gardening, clubs, volunteering, meeting up with friends, various forms of therapy, reading, gratitude journaling, taking a class, getting outdoors, meditation, and making art. The question is – what do you find energizing and refreshing? Get creative in figuring out how to make time for it in your day! 🙂
- Sarah Johnson