Think of as many positive things as you can about yourself and write them into statements. If you cannot easily remember the statements that you have come up with, then tape them to the wall at eye level while standing. Have a few and say them over and over. Some examples might be: I am strong, I can do this, I can do anything I set my mind to, I am invincible, I am a hard worker, I always give my best to any endeavor, I am intelligent (you get the idea).
Have your partner stand behind you. Hold your arms up at the shoulders and keep them extended. Now say those positive statements and any other positive things about yourself aloud, with conviction and confidence, while your partner attempts to pull your dominant arm down to your side. You, in turn, do your best to resist the pull. Pause, and say another few positive statements aloud and let your partner attempt to pull your arm down again.
After you have rested from part I, stand in the same position with arms out, but this time think of things that you do not like about yourself. Think of any negative self-talk you have psyched yourself out with in the past. It doesn’t have to be related to school, but since we are talking about board preparation, I will give you some examples to use related to this area: I am weak, I can’t do this, I can’t remember this, everyone is smarter than me, I am not going to be ready in time, etc. (in our culture, we usually have no problem making up a list of negatives). Ok, now proceed with the exercise as you did before. Say the negative self-statements with conviction while your partner stands behind you and attempts to pull your stronger, dominant arm down to your side while you resist.
If you are like me and hundreds of others, you will find that positive self-talk is linked to your physical performance in this exercise. As you think and say positive things to yourself, your body has the energy and motivation to resist that force that wants to pull and drag your body down. If you allow negative thinking to occur, other negative forces will be able to more easily pull at you and keep you from remaining stable and upright. However, what you say to yourself and about yourself is directly related to your stability and strength as shown by this simple exercise.
Positive thinking is easy for some and very difficult for others. Many of us have been programmed by cultural rules to only allow ourselves to say and believe negative things about ourselves. Any other belief would be evidence of pride and therefore sinful so we only allow ourselves to say things about ourselves that would not make us feel guilty or what we fear looking like: an arrogant snob who thinks they are all that and a bag of chips. Well, look out, because you are all that and a cupcake too.
If positive thinking is something new for you, write out statements for yourself and keep them posted where you can see them. When you notice yourself thinking negative thoughts, stop what you are doing and get out your positive statements and say them aloud with conviction. You ARE competent. You worked hard to get here, and if you aren’t feeling the most confident now, then you have got to know it is in there somewhere or you would not be in medical school right now. You have what it takes to do great on boards, so lay out a study plan and begin knocking it out. You CAN do it. Step by Step. Chapter by Chapter.
Use the power of positive self-talk to help you create and maintain strength and solidity throughout board preparations and sitting for your exams. As shown by this exercise, your thoughts are connected to actions, ability, and steadiness. How you proceed from here is up to you. Give yourself pep talks and surround yourself with positive people. Let others around you know that you will not tolerate negativity while you are preparing for board exams and do the same for others. Pave a positive path for yourself and remain strong.
If you need help with positive thinking, let me know. Write us and we will help each other. If you have a positive “self-talk” statement that others can use, share it here.