Are you aware of the things that you’re saying to yourself? Are they helping you or hindering you?
You may not have thought much about your inner dialogue or self-talk. If that’s the case, you might be surprised to know that the things that you are saying to yourself can make your inner struggles worse – they can a really major impact on your sense of well-being.
It’s estimated that the average person says 60,000 to 80,000 things to themselves each day.
And for many people, these inner comments revolve around ruminating about the past, generally reflecting on things that haven’t gone so well, or creating mental pictures of what might happen in the future, which often gives rise to greater anxiety.
In fact, while you’re listening to me now, you might be saying to yourself “I wonder if this is useful?”, “I should be working on that project rather than listening to this”, “I wonder what will have for dinner tonight?” and so on.
If you start to analyse your self-talk you might be amazed at how much of it is unproductive, or worse still, is pulling you down in some way.
Many people commonly scold themselves, denigrate themselves and criticise themselves, over, and over and over all day long.
Just imagine the harmful effect that is having on you. I picture the unconscious mind as being a 7-to-9-year-old child living within you, who loves you very much and wants, very much to be loved. This child also wants to protect you and help steer you through life, keeping you safe and healthy.
Imagine the effect it has on this child being told all day long things like “you’re hopeless”, “you’re an idiot”, “you are so stupid”,” you always do the wrong thing” and so on. Imagine saying that to a real child that you are spending time with. That would have very destructive and disempowering effect on him or her and would certainly not courage him or her to succeed. They would probably want to run away and be free from all this criticism.
On the other hand, imagine talking to a child as a kind parent, with thoughtful encouraging words, helping the child to his or her best. What a difference there could be between the two contrasting scenarios.
While the debilitating effect of negative self-talk can be worsened if the self-talk is of high intensity, constant repetition of the same thing can be even more corrosive.
It can be constructive to analyse the voice that you are hearing. Is it voice of one of your parents or of a significant other? This might give you some insight into its origins.
The secret is to become our own best friend. To be that understanding, compassionate friend to yourself who encourages and supports you to do your best. By doing this, you will be strengthening your self-worth and your resilience.
Apart from changing the things that you say to yourself, you can also reduce the impact of negative self-talk by changing the voice so that it sounds comical, or perhaps it makes its negative comments in a singsong voice.
If you find that your self-talk is negative and destructive, there is probably little that you could do that would have a greater impact on your sense of well-being than by improving the quality of your inner dialogue.
I’ll talk more about the type of language that we use in our self-talk and the ways that the particular phrases we use can hold us back in another video. Until then, I encourage you to make a practice of observing your self-talk and seeing what you can learn about yourself by doing that.