We all talk to ourselves.
Some of us just keep it to our inside voice.
But we still hear it, even if no one else does.
And you know what? Most of the crap we say to ourselves is bullshit.
We’re not saying nice, affirming, supportive things. We’re not quoting Stuart Smalley saying, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”
No, we’re often saying how stupid or clumsy or weak or lazy or (fill in the horrid trait here) we are. We tend to use a lot of swear words, or at least harsh words, too. We aren’t motivating, we’re punishing.
We would never talk that way to another human being. Besides the fact that it’s just rude and cruel and disrespectful, we wouldn’t talk to someone that way because we know it wouldn’t work.
So why do we talk to ourselves that way?
It’s an old, old, old habit that we learned sometime in the long, long ago. Like when we were kids. And it’s deeply ingrained; maybe we aren’t even unaware we’re doing it because we’re so used to hearing it.
But it’s a nasty habit, really. Like smoking. Or sticking your gum under your seat. Or picking your nose. Stuff you wouldn’t do if anyone were watching.
But you’re watching. I’m watching. And I’m astounded by that crap.
How do you break that habit, then?
Well the first step is to become aware, really aware. I have my clients keep a journal of the things they say to themselves. And I don’t let them beat themselves up for being nasty to themselves! Just put on the mental lab coat and goggles and start gathering data. No judgment. “Hmm, that’s interesting, I just called myself a stupid f*ing idiot.” Write it down. Even though they readily admit that they’re nasty, they’re often surprised by the sheer volume of the nastiness.
Once they’re aware of what and how much they say, we start to think about the impact. How does it make you feel? Does it work? What does it actually cause you to do? What would be a better thing to say? What would you say to someone else?
That all becomes the motivation to stop – the WHY. That’s the first step. Then you prep a list of things that are more appropriate to say, so we have them at the ready – things you would say to someone else, things that would motivate you, even things that you would like to hear someone else say to you. Then you just replace a nasty comment with something from that list. Every time. Every single time. Until it becomes automatic. And notice how that works – because it will.
You can’t change something unless you’re aware, right?
Would you do me a favor and say something nice to yourself right now. Not fake nice, truly nice.
In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!