How Self-Talk Affects Your Job Search and Expectations

Self-talk is particularly relevant for anyone hoping to launch a career change or secure a position they don't meet the standard qualifications for, so listen up.

Man Writing on Glass

What's the difference between the world's most successful people and the world's most average people? You might think it comes down to differences in their socioeconomic backgrounds, genes or skills, and all of these things can play a role. But many people underestimate the impact of self-talk. I can feel you rolling your eyes as a common preconception is that "mindset talk" is just fluff spouted by people gatekeeping the real secrets. Yet those who have achieved success know how important it is.

This is particularly relevant for anyone hoping to launch a career change or secure a position they don't meet the standard qualifications for, so listen up.

The Impact of Your Upbringing

You might like to think that you've moved on from events that happened a few years ago, so focusing on your childhood can seem ridiculous or even pathetic. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of examining their past trauma, believing it means they're adopting a victim mentality or making excuses.

But hear me out. The younger we are, the more impressionable we are—our brains aren't fully developed when we're children and soak up a lot of "things" (like assumptions and reactions) that end up sticking around. It's only natural that our upbringing would impact the way we operate today.

For example, you may have internalized the idea that it's normal to think failing means you're unworthy because that's how your parents reacted to their own failures, or you feel inferior because you were low down in the social hierarchy at school.

The more of these internalized thoughts you can unpack, the better chance you'll have at fixing your negative self-talk and achieving what you're truly capable of. Start by analyzing and noting the most impressionable moments of your childhood. You don't have to think about how they may be impacting you today yet, but this will come in our next section.

Thoughts, Emotions and Actions

Your thoughts control your emotions and actions, which are what ultimately determine how your career and life go—so you can't expect to change how you feel or act without first addressing your thoughts.

Let's say you find yourself thinking "I probably don't have the qualifications for any of these jobs'' when you're browsing vacancies, or you eat your breakfast in the morning while thinking "Today is going to be another disappointing day of job searching." How can you expect to have a positive mindset when it comes to making your applications or attending your interviews?

You might tell yourself that these are just isolated thoughts and no big deal, but over time, these thoughts create a narrative that we start to believe. Going back to your upbringing, you might have started to believe you were incapable because that's what a few teachers told you as a child. Is it that crazy to believe that you could start to believe you're incapable as an adult because that's what you tell yourself every day?

Common negative thoughts to watch out for include:

  • Doubting your abilities
  • Assuming people won't like you
  • Avoiding risks and failure
  • Thinking you don't deserve success
  • Convincing yourself that it's "too late"
  • Feeling like an impostor when you achieve some success

Do any of these sound familiar? Watch out because they can lead to you procrastinating on taking action or even declining opportunities when they come your way. Fortunately, it's possible to nip them in the bud with a few simple strategies.

Rewiring Your Thoughts

Changing the way you think isn't easy. You can't decide to stop thinking about your inferiority through pure willpower. However, you can force yourself to think certain positive thoughts—and over time, this can have a real impact on how and what you think. In the example above, you could force yourself to keep thinking "I have a great resume and will get the job of my dreams soon" instead.

Even if you don't believe what you're saying, it's possible to reprogram how you think through repetition. In a way, it's a type of self-hypnosis.

This will be most effective if you can identify your greatest complexes based on your upbringing and come up with alternative thoughts that combat them directly. Over time, I can almost guarantee that your emotions and actions will start changing too.

Even better, come up with an entire routine for your morning that will get you into a positive frame of thinking. You could wake up, listen to upbeat music as you get ready, then sit on your sofa and "meditate" by telling yourself how capable and highly skilled you are for ten minutes. Make tweaks until you find what's right for you.

Also, take action by periodically forcing yourself to think big and take risks. Even if you do this in areas that aren't directly related to your job (such as asking someone out on a date or trying stand-up comedy), doing this allows you to teach yourself that you're capable and that even if you fail, it's not a reflection on your ability or worth as a person.

You Are What You Think

Beneath every high-powered executive is a child who still feels inferior, fragile or like they have something to prove. But the most successful people are usually those who are already aware of this fact, so they know how to battle their demons to get the top roles and paychecks.

If you use the tactics outlined above, you could become one of them—don't believe the voice in the back of your mind telling you that you're not enough.

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