Talking to the man in the mirror

August 18, 2015 by

Michael Jackson might have been onto more than he even knew.

His song “Man in the Mirror” talks about how we can change the world around us “starting with the man in the mirror.” According to a recent scientific study, simply talking to the man in the mirror can help us affect positive change in our lives too.

For decades, pop psychologists and motivational speakers have made millions selling new methods for talking to ourselves – to the point that the fundamental activity itself has become a ridiculed stereotype all its own (remember Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live?).  The science behind these methods has been soft at best until recently.

Ethan Kross, a psychologist from the University of Michigan, has shown that when it’s done correctly, we can use self-talk to help ourselves make better decisions, overcome our fears, and more successfully confront challenging situations.  Self-talk, as described by Kross, can help us distance ourselves from the issue, reframe the situation, and gain a new level of objectivity.

Through his research, Kross has developed a simple framework to help you make a compelling case to yourself.

  • Start by calling yourself by your first name which helps to change your perspective on the problem.
  • Identify simple steps you need to take to achieve your desired result so the issue becomes surmountable.
  • Mitigate your anxiety and put the problem in larger context by reminding yourself of your good qualities.

The next time you’re feeling nervous about meeting a challenge head on or you need some help managing a situation, you can feel confident about turning to your best advisor, YOU.