The following story drives home the power of Self-Talk. It is a story entitled “The Scriptwriter” which first appeared in Gavin DeBecker’s book The Gift of Fear. I ran across this after attending a Workplace Violence Prevention training session with Gavin.
A man driving along a remote stretch of highway gets a flat tire. Preparing to put on the spare, he realizes he does not have a jack to raise the car. Far in the distance he sees lights of some small farmhouse and begins the long walk to borrow a jack. It is getting dark, and as he walks along, we worries that the people will be reluctant to help him. “They’ll probably refuse to even answer the door, or worse still, pretend they’re not home,” he thinks. “I’ll have to walk another mile to the next house, and they’ll say they don’t want to open the door and that they don’t have a jack anyway. When I finally get somebody to talk to me, they’ll want me to convince them I’m not some criminal, and if they agree to help me, which is doubtful, they’ll want to keep my wallet so I don’t run off with their stupid jack. What’s wrong with these people? Are they so untrusting that they can’t even help a fellow citizen? Would they have me freeze to death out here?” By this point he has reached the first house. Having worked himself into a virtual stage of rage, he bangs on the door, thinking to himself, “They better not try to pretend there’s no one home, because I can hear the TV.” After a few seconds, a pleasant woman opens the door wide and asks with a smile, “Can I help you?” He yells back at her, “I don’t want your help and I wouldn’t take your lousy jack if you gift wrapped it for me!”
The story is easy to identify with, and can even be humorous. In the context of what Gavin DeBecker is addressing, it can also lead a person to even more destructive or violent behavior. Actually, we all engage in Self-Talk, whether we take time to recognize it or not. Unfortunately, Self-Talk is what keeps so many people trapped in their current situation, stuck in their depression, or marooned on an island of mediocrity. On the other hand, Self-Talk is what leads others to see opportunity where many see only obstacles, and others to rejoice in what may be viewed as the most devastating circumstances. The good news is that we have power to chose our own Self-Talk, which will be a subject of a separate discussion. In the mean time, take a moment to slow down and ask yourself, “What was it I just said to myself?”