Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More Tips for Calming Down

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.


  1. How about we base the self assessments on actual performance (and the situation/conditions surrounding that), rather than either type of uniformly bad OR good baseless assumptions? You're setting yourself up for a shock if things don't go as assumed, either way. Though the pessimist is less likely to be disappointed by that shock (although, as the song goes, they are disappointING). If you're able to take stock honestly and accurately, you'll have a better idea of, and a more measured response to (because your expectations will be more likely to match with, or only slightly deviate from reality), your performance on the test, or what your boss thinks of you, etc.

    1. (and you'll be less likely to either get depressed, or have an overinflated sense of self worth ... especially if you're able to come to terms with your performance as being "good enough" as-is, even though you should still strive for continual self improvement)