Get Motivated, Stat: How to Give Yourself the Grand Poobah of Pep Talks

pep talk

When you need to get motivated, give yourself a pep talk. It’s not weird. Science says so.

When you’re in a funk, there’s nothing better than turning to a family member or friend for a venting session: You come away from it feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your stress like a boss. But during uber-stressful moments when it’s not possible to get in touch with someone, it turns out giving yourself a pep talk can be just as rejuvenating. Like, for real.

The secret? Using the pronoun “you” instead of “I”, as if you’re giving the pep talk to your BFF (which you kind of are). Saying something to yourself in the second person triggers the same warm and fuzzy feeling you get when scoring moral support from someone you trust, making it a powerfully simple way to get motivated.

In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, three experiments were conducted that delved into the difference between talking to yourself in the first person versus second person. Participants were asked to advise themselves on things like getting more anagrams done and going to the gym more often. Half of the participants used first person pep talks (“I’m going to exercise more!”) and the other half used second person (“You should totally go to the gym after work!”).

The change in pronouns led to the participants getting more done, no matter which task they were asked to perform. By using “you” instead of “I” to get motivated, they finished more anagrams and felt more motivated about getting a workout in.

It might sound strange, but give it a try! I do it all the time – especially on days when my to-do list is more of a scroll – and it helps me stay on track in a big way. When you’re stressed and trying to keep your head from popping off like a wine cork, the last thing you need is to be dragged by the discouragement that surrounds you.

Don’t just give yourself a pep talk: Give yourself a confidence boost too. Think Samantha Jones after the snotty sales clerk insinuated the dress she wanted to buy was too “young” for her: “I’m fifty-fucking-two, and I will rock this dress.” Use the same sass with a different pronoun, and look out universe!

If you’re about to go through something you’re semi-dreading, remind yourself of why it’s important for you to do it. For example, if you’re going on a blind date, remind yourself that you’re braving it to put yourself out there more. That way, no matter how the date goes, you’ll have reached your goal, which will ease your jitters.

Or if you’re just in a funk and there’s no rhyme or reason as to why, say to yourself, “You’re going to come out of this a better, more informed person.” Find a learning experience in the pile of rubble and carry it with you. And don’t be afraid to tell yourself you rock. To paraphrase Stuart Smalley, “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.” (You knew I had to go there.)

What quirky things do you do to get motivated?

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Image: Jennifer

Krissy Brady

Krissy Brady is a women’s health + lifestyle writer who’s so out of shape, it’s like she has the innards of an 80-year-old. Instead of learning how to crochet, she decided to turn her emotional baggage into a writing career (genius, no?). You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (you know, if you want).