All individuals, whether they have a diagnosis of autism or Asperger’s or not, are faced with stressful situations. This might be a job interview, an athletic competition, a performance review with a boss, or all the testing that students have to go through. Some people just seem to sail through these experiences, others get completely caught up in the stress. A big part of how well you manage is related to how well you can soothe yourself, and that’s all about self talk.
The idea of self talk was parodied by Al Franken as Saturday Night Live character Stuart Smalley, where he repeatedly affirmed “I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” But it’s more than just a joke. Positive self talk has its roots in well researched psychology techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). And, self talk can be effective for not just serious mental disorders like depression and anxiety, but for the more commonplace stresses we all face.
So exactly what is self talk? It’s those little comments running through your head when faced with a tough situation. Pay attention next time to what you’re telling yourself. Faced with a challenging math problem, is it something helpful like, “I can do this, I’ve done lots of practice problems.” or , “OMG, I’m awful at math. I’m always so stupid!” When you encounter your critical boss, do you think, “Oh no, he hates me! He’ll be complaining about my report.” or can you shift to a more helpful, “”I did a great job on that report. He’ll be pleased with it even if he doesn’t comment.”
Learning to notice and even change your own self talk can be the first step towards success.
Patricia Robinson MFT
I'm a licensed therapist in Danville, California and a coach for Asperger's and ADHD nationwide. I work with individuals of all ages who have special needs, like Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADD, ADHD, and the family members and partners of special needs individuals.