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Mother Knows Best

May 7, 2014

Chances are if you’re reading this blog by yourself you no longer need to ask your mother permission to do anything. That’s one of the perks of being an adult. But would your mother approve of most things you do?

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on how “self-talk,” which is when you talk to yourself in the hopes of trying to improve your own behavior and mood, is on the rise.

People use self-talk for many reasons: as reminders (“Where’s my phone?”), to get advice (“Should I eat this entire pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream?”) or for motivation (“Come on! You can do this!”). What’s proven most interesting is that how you talk to yourself can also make amom tat difference. Research found that people who addressed themselves as though they were another person (such as, say, your mother) and said “you,” performed better under stress than those who addressed themselves using “I.” Apparently speaking like this allows folks to “give themselves objective, helpful feedback.”

Kind of like what, oh, I don’t know, a mom would say?

While many of us use self-talk to reach our personal goals, what if in doing so we made believe it was really our mother speaking to us. Would our self-talk still sound like this? “Where’s my favorite shirt? Oh, there it is in the bottom of the laundry. I think it’s okay to wear again.” Probably not.

Adding, “Mother May I?” to our self-talk could possibly help us make better decisions. Such as, Mother May I skip the gym? Mother May I get a tattoo on my neck? Mother May I go on a date with an ex-con? Determining our choices with our mothers’ consciousness in mind may change our own behavior and possibly get better results. Now with Mother’s Day coming up, would it really kill you to put on a clean shirt?

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

In memory of Carol Wansart, a dedicated mother with a huge heart and an even greater laugh.


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  1. I like to tell myself “You can do it! Oh, you have a little schmutz on your face.” Then I lick my thumb and wipe it off. Then I get my hair out of my eyes because, “I have such a shaina punim.” 🙂

  2. Shelly Cohen permalink

    So funny Felice – I was telling dad about that WS article this morning ( since he did not get a chance to read it) and I was thinking how ( I admit it!) I talk to myself at times ( thank goodness I say you which confirms I am not totally nuts) and I have greater conviction that most times my insights are sound since the wonderful writer of these great blogs tells me that “I am always right!! ” The dedication to Carol Wansart was beautiful. I am sorry I never had the privilege of meeting her but I know she must have been remarkable since her daughter Terry is a very special woman. Happy Mother’s day to all you moms out there and to all others who may not be moms but nurture and care for people in your lives as if you were. Shelly

    • Happy Mother’s Day, Shelly. Hope all is well and your dad is doing as well as possible. He has such a wonderful family for support. Next up – Father’s Day! Love – Deb

  3. Deborah Golden permalink

    (“Should I eat this entire pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream?”). Since this is my favorite ice cream I would hesitate with the answer on this one. Of course, if I said “Mother may I?” then the answer would be obvious…NOT THE WHOLE FREAKIN’ PINT! Actually my mom wouldn’t talk that way but what she would say is “aren’t you still on Weight Watcher’s? How’s it going?” No guilt here!

  4. Mark permalink

    Very touching piece and dedication

  5. Catherine Fredman permalink

    Mother, may I return to Shabbat yoga and/or bicycle with my friend/neighbor Catherine down to Tom’s yoga class at 7:15 on Tuesday mornings at 16th Street? (Okay, no Shabbat yoga for me this Friday, since I will be down in Houston, but next Friday. And the Tuesday classes are lovely – especially when bracketed with a bike ride down the Greenway.)

    I miss you! Hope to see you soon!


  6. That little voice of mom in my head is also called my conscience — built in childhood. I hear it often. One of the great laughs I had with my mom was about the one major thing I did in my life that she advised against (buying my first house)–turned out so well and she got a real chuckle from admitting she turned out to be wrong. Only funny because it was such a rare occurrence. The thing I miss most about the dementia we’re wading through is being able to talk to her and share both accomplishments and struggles. But I still have her voice in my head….thankfully. Miss her so much, even though she’s still here.

  7. Albert permalink

    Great article. And people who also talk to themselves work for Jennifer raab

  8. Joe Faucette permalink

    I believe that some psychologists say for pain management is to name the pain, like “Harry” or “Betty”. Whatever name you call it, talk to it like a person. i.e. Harry go away now or Betty you are not helping me with the pain.. Not sure if it helps. But Happy Mother’s Day to all.

  9. Jamie Barr permalink

    Please never tell my mom she knows best. I will never hear the end!

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