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Putting the “YOU” in Positive Self-Talk

It might sound silly, but during that next workout try “YOU can do it” instead of “I can do it.”

According to a study that was published online in the European Journal of Social Psychology in 2014, talking to yourself in the second person when you are giving yourself encouragement in the gym may actually boost your performance more than using the first-person.

As the study’s co-author Dr. Sanda Dolcos, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explained, “People are used to receiving and giving advice in the second-person, and they seem to prefer using the second-person pronoun to psych themselves up before engaging in action.”

How the study’s authors arrive at this conclusion? They asked 143 undergraduate students at the University of Illinois to write down advice for themselves before working through a series of anagram puzzles. Half of the 143 students were asked to use first-person while the other half wrote in second-person.

The students who wrote in second-person completed more anagrams and appeared to have a more positive attitude when working through the anagrams. “We were not surprised and had previous research showing people spontaneously use ‘You’ in situations that require high levels of self-control and action,” said Dolcos, “as well as situations following a negative event.”

So next time you need a little more encouragement try “You” instead of “I” - and also trust that all of your coaches will be encouraging “YOU” too!

PSST! Here's your chance for 5 extra tickets in our monthly drawing: mention the catch phrase "Positive Self-Talk" to any of the coaches!