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What is Self-Talk - and Can We Influence It?

As we go about our daily routines, an internal monologue narrates our experience. This is termed self-talk and it serves to guide our behaviours and influence the way we interact with others. It also plays a major role in how we feel about ourselves, other people, and the world in general. Self-talk can sometimes be covert and other times overt. This in turn can make it difficult to identify our internal dialogue without practice.

The judgements that we make influence our mood, our emotions, and how we interact with others. We tend to treat our self-talk as true – as factual information. The reality is, however, that most of the time our self-talk is merely based on bias’s and errors in thinking.

Let me give you an example. Do you remember the last time you dropped something? Forgot something? Even broke something? Chances are that following such an incident our internal dialogue would have gone something like this:
“Ughhhh! Idiot!”
“How could I be so stupid?!”
“I always mess up…”
“I should know better”
If we are unkind to ourselves – how is that going to impact how we feel or our self-worth?
The funny thing is that we would never dream of speaking to our dear friends and loved ones in this manner. But we fail to treat ourselves in the same manner we do our friends.

How you can influence your self-talk

There is some good news. We can learn to challenge our self-talk – once we become aware of it. It’s like changing a bad habit. Once aware of the negative dialogue see if you can ignore it, or challenge it. The idea is not to necessarily stop the thoughts but not to treat them as fact.

Positive self-talk can include affirmations and with practice we can cultivate a gentler and kinder style of self-talk.

Challenge yourself and your family

See if you can notice when you, your partner, or your children use negative self-talk. Then try one of the following techniques:

1. Is your self-talk really true – is there any evidence? For example, is there any evidence that you are “always late for everything?”

2. What would you say to your best friend right now? For example, we tend to be more compassionate towards others than ourselves.

3. Is there anything that can be learned or gained from what has happened? For example, maybe the lesson learned from an accident is to take more care, to be slow, and vigilant. Too often we get stuck in our thinking and only look at the negatives. However, if we look hard enough there is usually something positive or a teaching to be discovered…

4. Is there something you can do to interrupt the thought pattern to provide a welcome distraction? For example, it can be as simple as counting to 5, engaging in a physical activity, or listening to your favourite song.

Contact me to learn more about self-talk and how you can change your habitual thinking patterns.

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In Summary – Self-Talk is:

-An inner voice/a running monologue.

-Is based on your beliefs and biases about yourself, or the world.

-It’s a way for your brain to process and make sense of your daily experiences.

-It’s usually negative, contains sweeping detrimental statements like – “I can’t do anything right”. We treat these statements/stories as the truth.

-Despite knowing it’s harmful – we do it anyway! This in turn creates thinking patterns which replay. And if practiced enough – become thinking habits.

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