Self-talk often takes the form of what our egos identify as our needs. Deepak Chopra says:
“If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. These are the three things that the ego is doing all the time. It’s very important to be aware of them every time they come up.”
Pause for a moment and think about the implications of a life free of the need to control, to be approved of and to judge. Try just one day to monitor your internal dialogue to determine if you can shift your self-talk each time those dynamics occur.
The biggest problem with self-talk has been that it has often been inaccurate. All observations benefit from multiple points of view; and, being human, we have sometimes seen the world as though we were wearing blinders. If we’ve constantly told ourselves that there’s something wrong with us, we likely have begun to believe and act on that negative self-talk.
If we are to use self-talk effectively, we want to keep and grow what works to move us forward, but discard – as quickly as we can – what doesn’t work. Among the best ways to eliminate what doesn’t work is to reality check our thinking with people who will tell us the truth – at least as they see it.
Who do you have in your life whom you can trust to give you frank, useful and hopefully compassionate feedback about yourself? Do you seek out the opinions of others whom you trust? Can you see how desirable it is for us to have this kind of information to help us form more objective opinions about ourselves and the resulting self-talk?
In the movie, “Yes Man,” Jim Carrey is challenged to change his self-talk of habitually saying “no” to almost everything to, “Yes, I will do that.” It’s a great premise in a movie that received mixed reviews, and Carrie’s performance illustrates the huge changes that can result from shifting one’s perceptions.
Because his character, Carl Allen, tells himself that he will say “yes” to everything, there are some admittedly wacky results, but also many poignant moments that reveal themselves.
When our self-talk permits us to think freely from an open mind to consider possibilities other than what we have been conditioned to hold as “the answer,” surprising growth and evolution can occur.
How has your self-talk been about an automatic and reflexive “no” – perhaps learned from a parent who modeled that behavior when you were growing up? What would happen if your self-talk allowed you to think more creatively? Have you observed anyone who could serve as a role model for you whose behavior indicates openness in her or his self-talk? How can you shift your self-talk to diminish your limitations?
How much do you think your inner dialogue has with the results that you produce in life? Have you ever been one of those people who has allowed negative self-talk to run roughshod over your consciousness and become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Or are you a master at only uplifting self-talk as a means of inspiring you to move forward?
Self-talk matters because it reflects our perceptions. If “perception is reality,” then any perception that you’re a winner or a loser – or anything in between – that somehow gets translated to self-chatter has a tremendous amount of influence over your ultimate experience.
Among the most powerful things we can do to manage self-talk is to write it down. Take three minutes as an experiment and write down all the positive self-talk and three minutes for all of the negative. This exercise makes your choice making very clear by contrasting what will aid you against what will diminish you. What other ways do you use self-talk?