Have you been listening to voices lately? Whooooa…!
I am not referring to some far out, sixth sense voices; I am talking about your own self-talk: that internal voice inside your head that determines how you perceive yourself and situations.
How we talk to ourselves drives our behavior and habits in every area of our life: how we respond in our relationships, interpret interactions, and even how successful we are in accomplishing our goals. Oftentimes we get stuck in patterns of damaging self-talk that holds us back from the abundance life offers us.
See if you can relate to any of these voices taking up space in your head.
- “You’re not enough. Do more. Work harder. Be better”.
- “You look horrible in that picture.”
- “You don’t have what it takes.”
- Why try, you will only fail anyway.”
- “How could you be so stupid? “
- “You’re fat.”
- “If only you were more like her.”
- “It’s your fault.”
- “You don’t belong here.”
Brutal. Painful. Cruel. Many of us talk to ourselves more often than we want to admit (myself included). If we slow down long enough to investigate these voices we would be surprised by how much of what we tell ourselves is exaggerated, distorted and simply not true.
Our thoughts are like a train traveling repeatedly down the same old tracks. The older we get the faster our thoughts travel down these familiar pathways. In order to change our thought patterns we have to lay down new tracks in our subconscious mind.
Here are four ways to jump the tracks and break the cycle of your negative self-talk:
1. Become aware of your mental chatter.
Learn to pay attention and listen to what your thoughts are telling you. Meditation is a great way to do this. When we become mindful of our inner self-talk we are able to question our thoughts and change them.
2. Challenge your negative self-talk.
Begin to question the validity of your thoughts. Our thought patterns are habits regardless of them being true. If these thoughts are not what you want to believe or what will move you forward in your life replace them with what you want to believe. I understand, easier said then done!
3. Begin to test and change your self-talk.
So much of our negative thinking is exaggerated and simply untrue. By asking challenging questions we can put our thoughts in perspective and actually change our perceptions. Some possible questions to ask yourself are: what is my evidence for or against my thinking? Is this really true? How can I check out if these beliefs are true? Are there other ways I could look at this situation? Is the situation as bad as I am making it out to be? If I replace this thought with a positive one, how would this change how I view this situation? Will this matter in a day, a week or next year?
With practice, we can learn to notice our own negative self talk when it happens, and consciously choose what we want to believe.
Focusing on the positive outcomes you want to create in your life can motivate and empower you when you are stuck in negative thinking. Ask questions such as, What can I do about this situation that would be positive? Can I control the outcome or is this something I need to let go. How can I learn from this situation and do better next time?
Changing our thought process is like strengthening a new muscle. The more you strengthen it the stronger it will become. Pay attention daily to those inner voices and when they are negative: challenge, test and change them by strengthening the messages you are telling yourself. It is worth the work out!
Question: What are you going to practice today when you find you are being critical of yourself?