Monthly Archives: March 2013

Ergo Sum: Practicing Healthy Self-Talk


Ergo Sum: Practicing Healthy Self-Talk

(Sequel to Video: Who Peed on Your Seed?)

In my video segment, I addressed how we each have a purpose to fulfill in life.  Many of us receive the impetus of “negative ingredients” that can lead to either productive (&/or counterproductive) results.  It is a combination of an “I think I can” attitude with an “I will achieve” behavior, and a “This makes me happy” sentiment.  Thoughts, Actions, Emotions.  These are the lifestyle choices we can each make.

There are several examples of well-known individuals who have practiced this lifestyle choice of believing they can be more, among which include the following:

Sir Winston Churchill, the PM who kept England afloat during WWII strictly on the strength of his brilliant oratory, was at the bottom of his class in one school and failed the entrance exams to another.

Beethoven had a teacher who called him a “hopeless dunce.”

Albert Einstein, whose theory of relativity changed the scientific world.  He performed badly in almost all of his high school courses and even flunked his college entrance exams!  He couldn’t speak until he was almost 4 yrs old and his teachers said, “He will never amount to much.”  Post-college, he was denied a teaching post.

Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs, but also struck out 1,330 times.

Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she “wasn’t fit for TV.”

Here are some more:

So, I dedicate this blog on Self-Talk a good friend who upon having viewed my video, remarked, “What’s next…Who Pooped on Your Stoop??”  Well, in a sense, yes.  David Stoop, author of Self Talk: Key to Personal Growth, wrote, “Your self-talk is a powerful force in your life.”  This blog is about conquering self-defeating behavior and getting you back on the road to success, which begins with your emotions and thoughts.

Your self-talk never stops.  The key to success (however you define it) is to practice healthy self-talk, the kind that will lead you to reaching your goals and desires; not the self-sabotage or self-fulfilling prophecy kind.

According to professional counselors Dr. Kevin Leman and Randy Carlson, most people speak aloud at the rate of 150-200 words per minute, but research suggests that you can talk privately to yourself by thinking at rates of up to 1,300 words per minute.  One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is, “This is the way I am, so I can’t change,” or “I was born this way.”  The truth is you can gain control of your thoughts and change them!  Your perceptions affect your thoughts, which, in turn, impact your behaviors, and those behaviors are unlikely apt to lead you to success.

One way to initiate the road towards effectiveness is to reconstruct your perception of the past and develop a healthier adult outlook on life today.  This is not to say that we must practice “historical revisionism,” à la Robert Redford; it is to choose to focus on the positive that also exists.  And, as Oprah Winfrey said, “If you live in the past and allow the past to define who you are, then you never grow.”

You essentially have two choices:

  • DWELL- Carry the grudge, fight, be the victim/martyr, keep opening your own wounds and those of others; or,
  • ACCEPT- Accept it for what it was and move on.  There is no need to struggle with something that is working against you.

“It’s not that easy to ‘Accept’!”  Well, try your ABC’s…

Accept that your memory has a downside to it; AND, that you survived. The key to letting go is acceptance. (NOTE: This does not necessarily mean forgive or forget).  Concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl recognized this fact that the one thing which no one can take away from you is the power of your thoughts.

Believe that that experience took place for a reason, which was to strengthen and prepare. This preparation can be to showcase your talents/skills or to serve as a source of strength/role modeling for someone else.  Let go of the past so that you can get on with your future.  The past was a lesson to prepare for the future; today is a gift, which is why it is called the “present.”

Change your behavior by using different self-talk.  What you remember does not have to be reality for you today.  Rewrite your memories by changing your perceptions.  Focus not what you will have; practice the emotion and thoughts of what you want in the moment!  This is the trick, Zedi mind-trick yourself!

Changing your self-talk for the better will change the way you act, communicate, and feel.  Thus, choose wisely.  Choose to be happy.

Here is a 25-second scene from The Help, where the maid helps her charge learn to practice healthy self-talk, since her mother is tough on the little girl:

Don’t allow people to “box” you in…Be like Albert Einstein, think outside the box!


Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is an Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator.


Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, (Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1959).

Dr. Kevin Leman & Randy Carlson, Unlocking the Secrets, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 1989).

Hugh Missildine, Your Inner Child of the Past, (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1963), 56.

David Stoop, Self Talk: Key to Personal Growth, (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1981), 33-46.

Robert Waldron, Oprah! (New York: St. Martin’s, 1987), 36.


From Brentwood to Brentwood

From Brentwood to Brentwood

Brentwood Home

Two years ago in 2011, I relocated with my spouse and our two sons from Los Angeles, California, to Nashville, Tennessee; more specifically, to Brentwood.

For years I had feared leaving the rich diversity of both people and geography that the Golden State has to offer, not to mention the incomparable climate that makes playing outdoor tennis in January a pleasurable possibility.  It was the increasing traffic congestion that drove this native Californian towards wishing harmless earthquakes would “shake” some fear into the newcomers to return to their places of origin…Los Angeles (LA) has simply become too crowded. I knew there was something more suitable for us at this stage of our lives than the environmental stress (pollution, graffiti, traffic, road rage, crime, etc) and the ever-increasing debt of California, which was impacting our schools, hospitals, etc.

EDUCATION.  K-12 education in California is tricky; either you live in a residential pocket that may have a well-ranked public school, or else Brentwood, CA and surrounding residents must pay for private schooling.  In Brentwood, TN, all 12 schools are ranked 10, on a scale of 1 to 10.  In fact, Brentwood High School ranks 76th in the country for public high schools.  It is the equivalent of gaining a private education for free.  Every year there are a handful of students who score 100% on their college admissions test, SAT.  I never heard of that in Brentwood, CA.

ECONOMY.  Los Angeles has a three-tiered economy of entertainment, tourism, and aerospace; plus, one of the world’s busiest ports (i.e. Long Beach).  Nashville, known as Music City for its country, pop, gospel, rock, and roughly 200 recording studios, is also the nation’s health care center, where 21 healthcare companies are based and another 350 healthcare companies have operations here.  The economic impact of the health care industry alone is $30 Billion.  And, the Vanderbilt Medical Center has technology that connects all of its healthcare clinics, so you could walk into any one of them and they would be able to quickly pull all of your information.

HOUSING.  Aside from the temperate climate, steady employment, low crime rate, phenomenal education, and a governmental system that works, there is the housing.  The average house in Brentwood, CA, is $1.7 million; with an average income of $115,000.  In Brentwood, TN, the average house is $426,000 to $800,000; with an average income of $96,000.  Here’s the kicker: there is NO State Income Tax in Tennessee.  This means that the $115,000 in Brentwood, CA, is actually $104,305 after CA State tax is deducted – still roughly $8,300 more than Brentwood, TN average of $96,000.  So, at roughly equivalent income how does the housing compare? The housing is generally 30 years newer in TN than in CA, and the square feet in Brentwood, TN, is roughly 3,200-5,000 (or more); whereas Brentwood, CA, has houses with a median of 2,300 square feet.  It is for these reasons that several Californians have relocated to Nashville, Tennessee.

In Brentwood, TN, the old adage, “Good fences make good neighbors,” simply does not apply, because there are few fences, the space between the homes is ample, and many homes are made of brick and stone.  It is the best combination of neighborliness and privacy.  So what about other, more cultural, values?  How can we differentiate behaviorally between the two Brentwood cultures?  Here are five pairs of contrasting values: Individualism/Collectivism, Competition/Cooperation, Control/Harmony, Direct/Indirect (Communication), Informal/Formal.  (Note: These are broad generalizations that assist in the description of the area, and are not to be considered as applying to every Brentwood resident as stereotypes).

#1. Individualism/Collectivism. In Los Angeles, there is high Individualism where many people are comfortable talking about themselves as a topic of discussion.  In the workplace, teams are viewed as a temporary collection, so co-workers maintain relatively loose relationships in their larger social environments.  In Nashville, there is high Collectivism where people identify strongly with their faith and feel personally offended when their group or organization is criticized.  They view themselves as a permanent extension of a group/organization and expect security from the organization while offering loyalty in return.  Because of the value of Collectivism, there is, for example, a professional women’s group of Civic and Business Leaders (CABLE) which is a supportive, inclusive group of over 600 members.  The strength of this “Athena” community far surpasses any professional women’s group in LA.

#2. Competition/Cooperation. In Los Angeles, there is high Competition where achievement is displayed through material possessions.  It is a car culture, which assists in the “impressions management” — in case you never see their home.  In the workplace, they assert opinions and expect others to speak their minds.  In Nashville, there is high Cooperation where a lot of time is spent building and maintaining relationships.  In the workplace, they avoid openly aggressive situations and generally consider them unnecessary; thus, tact and diplomacy are necessary.  There is less flash and more focus on substance…think Blake Shelton and Cristina Aguilera; while Cristina definitely has substance, she loves flash.  Blake prefers to have less distraction and focus on the quality.

#3. Control/Harmony. In Los Angeles, there is high Control where time is considered a commodity so in order to achieve tasks, LA residents may appear or will be confrontational.  In Nashville, Harmony is valued, so establishing and maintaining positive relationships is key.  This emphasis on Harmony blends into “fluid time” where situations and events determine the course of action.  For example, there are “summer hours” – this means that since the kids are out of school for the summer, employees may opt to leave early on Fridays.

#4. Direct/Indirect (Communication).  In Los Angeles, there is Direct communication where people feel fairly comfortable providing feedback.  Direct conflict management is intricately tied to the notion of honesty and trustworthiness.  In Nashville, Indirect communication helps to maintain Harmony.  Conflict is handled in an implicit way in order to avoid direct confrontation, which is embarrassing and a threat to personal dignity. Many times employees will project an impression of not having an opinion as a way to gauge what is “more appropriate.”

#5. Informal/Formal. In Los Angeles, there is an open and uncensored flow of opinions and thoughts.  People dress and speak casually.  In the workplace, there is an emphasis placed on the appearance of basic equality between the people in a business relationship.  In Nashville, it is rare to have a man not open the door for a lady. Residents are sensitive to proper forms of address, so “Yes, Ma’am” or “No, Sir” are used; and, “Miss/Mr. (+ first name).”  In the workplace, there is an expectation of subordinates to be mindful of etiquette.  This may lend itself into hierarchical behaviors, such as telling a superior what s/he wants to hear, not what they really think.

Brentwood, California Brentwood, Tennessee
Population 19,000 (LA 3.8 million;503 square miles) Population 35,000 (Nashville 1.8 million;526 square miles)
0-2 kids 3-4+ kids
Democrat/predominantly blue Republican/predominantly red
Oscars/Golden Globes CMA/Bonaroo
Sunset Strip clubbing Honky Tonkin
Concentration of Music Industry: 3.43 Concentration of Music Industry: 11.20
In-n-Out drive-thru Sonic drive-in
Westwood eateries/Montana Meat & 3’s
PJ Days Camo Days
“F*#@ You!” “Bless Your Heart!”
“What are you doing this weekend?” “Which church do you go to?”
Hiking, surfing, skiing Hiking, canoeing, ziplining
Neighborhood/street Sub-divisions
Earthquakes Tornadoes
Variations of Summer Seasons, plus Summer thunder
Work/Work Imbalance Work/Life Balance
Contract workers, work on vacation Vacations
Hugging at work is sexual harassment Boss, co-workers, peers hug
Traffic Congestion/405 parking lot Country drives, rolling green hills
Driving 1.5 hours just to get 20 miles; 5 hours to Palm Springs or San Jose Driving 1.5-5 hours to visit 9 neighboring states
Drivers prevent you from merging Drivers allow you to merge
Gasoline $4.09 Gasoline $3.69

There you have it…to each his/her own.  There is beauty to be found in every location.  While I love the Pacific Ocean, the lakes are huge bodies of water which have allowed my son to join crew.  I have clicked my heels and I am home.

Corporate Relocations from across America to Nashville, TN
(selected relocations, 2007-2012)

TN Corporate Relocations

*Courtesy of Janet Miller

Sources:,,, Training Management Corporation,,, Martin Prosperity Institute (2009), *Nashville Chamber of Commerce Chief Economic Development Officer Janet Miller.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is an Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator. She acknowledges there are other Brentwoods across the USA including Washington, D.C, Alaska, Maryland, New York, and Texas.