We all talk to ourselves. I’m not saying you sit in the corner mumbling incessantly or actually say anything out loud (or maybe you do! I don’t know), but chances are, you’ve said something like “You’ve got this” or “Come on, you can do it” or (hopefully not) “Ughh … You’re such an idiot!” Well, this kind of self-talk is something psychologists have been looking at recently, and the results are pretty interesting.
It turns out, the way you engage in self-talk can actually affect things like the stress you feel, your tendency to ruminate (or stay stuck on an issue), and your ability to take negative feedback. Why do these things matter? Well, if you’re taking the bar (or waiting for your bar results), you’re probably thinking a lot about the exam. You might even be talking to yourself about it! So, here are some tips to make that self-talk more productive.
Call yourself by your name.
I know, that sounds really bizarre. However, studies have shown a correlation between calling yourself by your first name when you self-talk and success when completing various tasks. On the other hand, calling yourself “I” can go along with being less successful at completing tasks, as well as more flustered.
The study linked above discusses the details of this and its effects on your brain. Suffice to say, distancing ourselves from the stress of the situation by addressing ourselves by name helps us see ourselves from a distance, sort of how we would see a friend or someone else outside of us. According to researchers, calling yourself by name and saying “you” creates distance, and this “distance confers wisdom, confidence, and calm” that you don’t get if you’re calling yourself “I” or “me.”
Give yourself instructions and encouragement.
Not surprisingly, ruminating about things like success or failure on a future or past exam is not very helpful or a good way to spend our time. It turns out that the way we talk ourselves through thinking about these things can actually help with the levels of stress we feel and minimize rumination as well as feelings of shame and depression.
Researchers recommend taking a step back and “becoming a detached observer.” You’ve probably noticed how much easier it is to talk a friend or loved one through a difficult situation with kindness and compassion than it is to talk yourself out of the same circumstances. So, go ahead, tell yourself you’ve dealt with tougher stuff before. Tell yourself to stay calm because you’re gonna be okay. It will get better.
As uncomfortable and new-agey as affirmations can seem at first, researchers have found that they do actually help with self-esteem and perspective, “bolstering self-worth” and helping us deal more effectively with negative feedback. In case aspirations feel super weird to come up with on your own, here are some to try on for size. Go ahead, try it!
“Hey [your name], you know what? You’re a really intelligent person. You already managed to get all the way through law school. And you’re going to pass this exam too. You will probably pass this time around, but even if you don’t, this exam doesn’t define you. You are more than this test. You’re already really successful in your life and you’re going to continue to make great things happen for yourself and others. In the broad scheme of things, this exam, the whole study period and all the time you spend waiting are all just a tiny blip on an otherwise really long and awesome career as a fantastic attorney. You’re going to get there. You’ve worked really hard, and you can do it!”
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- More Reasons to Study for the Bar Exam When Waiting for Results
- What is the California Bar Exam, Anyway?
- Study or Not to Study While You Are Waiting for Results?
- How to Get Twice The Amount of Time on Your Bar Prep
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