I’ve got a question for you, it’s something that comes up time and again with clients and I’m curious to know your response. Did I mention it’s something I would do well to ask myself as well?
Would you speak to your best friend the way you speak to yourself?
Well, do you? Hmmm, no I didn’t think so.
We all speak to ourselves, every single one of us. There is no getting away from the internal chatter. For some it’s a constant stream of dialogue (myself included). For others it’s just at times of high stress.
If we could stop for one moment and be aware of the impact of our internal dialogue it would be a revelation.
Perhaps that’s something you could commit to doing today (a week would be even better). Would you allow yourself to speak to a loved one – think a child or a best friend, or even your partner the way you sometimes/all the time speak to yourself. You see I’m making a huge assumption here that your self talk is not ideal. Can you, hand on heart, say that your language towards yourself is loving and nurturing and kind? Well, is it? I’d love to write down some of the things I’ve heard clients say about themselves, sometimes under their breathe and read it back to them.
How we speak to ourselves has a very real and powerful effect on our self esteem. Over the years we might simply have got into the habit of speaking to ourselves in a negative way. I bet you’re not even aware of it most of the time. Asking clients, and myself this question “would I speak to my best friend the way I speak to myself” usually elicits quite a reaction. Of course they/I wouldn’t. We’d have no friends if we did! So why is it acceptable to speak to ourselves the same way?
Another question worth asking when we’re feeling less than at our best is, “what would I suggest to a dear friend right now? Would I tell herself to pull herself together or would I put a loving arm around here and tell her to look after herself and let her know I’m here to support her?”…..same goes for us my friends.
So let’s assume that you might want to make some changes and ease up on the negative self talk.
Notice and acknowledge your negative internal dialogue without judging it – by paying attention to it we will naturally loosen its grip.
Notice patterns – make a note of them. Does your negative self talk happen at certain times of day or times of the week. Does it happen ?
Question the facts! – “I’m rubbish at everything”…..really? Is that true? I doubt it very much!
Turn down the volume – I bet those negative words aren’t said in a quiet, gentle voice are they? I bet they are LOUD AND SHOUTY!
Replace the negative with something affirming – “you’ve got to accentuate the positive!”. This may well be very difficult after years of self abuse so go gently. Say something that you can believe. “I’m amazing at everything” is not something you’ll instantly believe, so what could you say that is believable?
One day at a time – change won’t happen overnight and there will be times when you forget and end up berating yourself yet again. The moment you recognise this, stop, breath, imagine you’re your best friend and say something positive. No judging remember!
Let me know how you get on, will you?