Over 30 years ago, Dr. Shad Helmstetter published his book, “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself.” Since then, people everywhere have become aware of “self-talk,” which describes the process in which we all engage, of having an internal dialogue with ourselves regarding what is happening in our lives. Usually, and unless we become aware, most self-talk is negative.
Why is this important? Because we usually repeat those negative statements over and over as we go through our days. AND our subconscious mind believes what it hears repeated, recognizing it as truth. If you repeatedly tell yourself “I’m clumsy,” you will believe that as true and behave clumsily as a result. If you tell yourself you are not a good communicator, terrible at telling people how you feel toward them, or that you have a difficult time writing, then those things will be your experience.
In addition, what we have inside of us gets reflected to us from outside. If we hold onto the idea that we’re terrible at expressing our feelings to others, that’s what they will reflect to us. We’ll have others in our life who also do not express feelings easily, or who can quickly tell us that’s precisely what is “wrong” with us.
Clearly, it behooves us to change and take charge of the self-talk in our lives. I suggest we look at three major areas of change. Consider these factors when you talk to yourself.
One of the most painful experiences we can have results from being judged by others, particularly if that judgment is negative or harsh. Growing up in a family which featured plenty of criticism, I was particularly frightened of judgments. As a young adult, I did everything I could to avoid people who were judgmental and feared being judged. As I got older, I realized there wasn’t really a way to stop others from judging me. So, I decided to focus on stopping my own self-judgments.
As I became less judgmental of myself, I was surprised with the realization that as I became less judgmental of myself, I was making fewer negative judgments about others, and also important, other people were making fewer judgments of me! What we have inside of us, we tend to attract from outside. Here it was, demonstrated in my own life based on me relinquishing self-judgments.
I discovered it was easier to give up judgments if I focused on the very kindest and most loving things, I could say to myself about my behavior and choices. “That’s interesting,” I would say to myself when I made a mistake. “I wonder what I need to learn from doing that?” Just as a loving parent talks with an errant young child, the behavior is not judged or put down. Instead, the child is taught to be curious about what he has done, to look at what has happened, to think about doing things another way. Eventually, my self-talk shifted over to “you did a good job learning about that, Ilene.” (For more explanation, visit www.emotionalmasteryforlife.com or read Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System)
As a single parent for over 20 years, there were plenty of times when I felt frazzled, seeming to have more things to do than I was getting done. When I consulted a friend, a remarkable medium, I told her “I just don’t have enough time to get everything done!” She smiled, telling me the first thing I needed to do was to stop affirming that there wasn’t enough time! “There’s always the same amount of time,” she chided me. “Furthermore, every time you affirm there is not enough time, it limits you. I want you to start saying this: ‘There is enough time for everything!’”
Dutifully, I went home and vowed to do as she had said. With everything up to me, earning a living without savings or financial help, keeping everyone healthy, the house clean, accomplishing homework, decision-making, transporting children to activities, cooking, and caring for our house, I wondered how it could possibly be that “there is enough time for everything.”
Every time I heard myself saying “I don’t have enough time for…” I substituted aloud “There is enough time for everything.” When doubt crept in, I said “There is enough time for everything. I may not see it right now, but I know there is enough time for everything.”
Surprisingly, within a couple of weeks I was calmer each day and began to see that I was getting more done. I didn’t know how it was happening, but there actually seemed to be enough time for everything. Not holding back my gluttonous urges, I decided to substitute this phrase: There is more than enough time for everything.
And what I said became truth in my life.
So many of us create affirmations, statements and phrases we repeat to ourselves in order that we can have better lives. Keep in mind that we may already be repeating affirmations, but perhaps we are not affirming what we really want in life!
This same friend reminded me of one other thing I want to mention. Stop comparing yourself to others. “No comparison,” she said, “is a true comparison. A true comparison of us with someone else requires a comparison of everything, every bit of our life and their life. That’s impossible!
There’s nothing wrong with ownership, but there are some things we might not really want to own, such as “my procrastination,” “my diabetes,” “my anger,” “my fear,” or “my cancer.” When we remember that whatever we repeat and repeat, our subconscious mind adopts as “truth,” and conducts our lives accordingly, it seems wise to be careful about what we assume we “own.”
It’s time for all of us to live our true nature, amazing souls with amazing abilities, filled with love. To do this, we have a few things we’ll want to give up. Start now!
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Ilene Dillon, MSW, has dedicated her life to helping people resolve personal challenges once and for all, then design life to be what they want it to be. A Transformation Specialist, she has worked 50 years as a psychotherapist and 15 years as a coach. She is a global speaker, Amazon International Best-selling author (The Wellness Universe Guide to Complete Self-Care, Volumes 1 and 2), podcast guest, and plans to give her first TEDx speech (on Anger) later this year. Ilene is also the author of Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System and End Manipulation: Stop Being Jerked Around by Toxic, Energy-draining People. With her little dog, Pi, Ilene lives and travels full-time throughout North America in her RV, writing, teaching, and speaking along the way.