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Positive Self-Talk Not Working?
Try This Instead.

Posted by George Parker on

Do you struggle to get up in the morning to run? What about anxiety before a race?

I read an article by a cognitive psychologist that might solve your struggles.

The technique is called Functional Imagery Training or “FIT.” FIT was born from research on addiction, specifically what’s called the “elaborated intrusion theory,” which focuses on the role of intrusive thoughts in addictive behaviors. This theory suggests that cravings and intrusive thoughts about substance use or unhealthy behaviors can disrupt self-control and increase the likelihood of relapse. FIT works by helping individuals develop alternative mental images to counteract the intrusive thoughts, and build themselves a more positive narrative.[1]

 For example, on a cold, rainy morning when you’d rather hit the snooze button, it means using self-talk (“This is the healthier choice, you’ll feel much better if you get up and run, etc.”) to convince yourself to get out of bed and lace up your sneakers. FIT rests on the same foundation but takes it a step further by simultaneously using multisensory imagery. That is, you focus not only on thoughts but on sensations as well.

It goes something like this: When your alarm goes off and you see the weather outside, imagine the patter of the rain, the cool breeze on your face, the sound of your footsteps hitting the pavement, your muscles working as you run, the taste of sweat on your lips, and how good it feels to have finished a morning run. Finally, imagine your warm shower afterward. That feeling of immersive accomplishment and reward makes it harder to hit snooze.

FIT takes positive self-talk one step further by including senses and images along with your thoughts. If positive talk isn’t pepping you up, maybe FIT is your option.

[1] Joanna Grover, Mastering Your Mental Images Can Make Your Day, Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023

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