by: Coach Julie Hartman
Allow me to introduce you to …
Your inner voice – the one that narrates, keeps score, judges, problem solves, calculates, makes lists and reminders, and essentially cranks and works hard all day long.
You know the voice I’m referring to, it’s your thinking brain. It’s been talking to you for as long as you can remember. Sometimes it won’t shut up and let you go to sleep at night. It wakes up with you in the morning and goes and goes until you fall asleep. Some days it is friendly and encouraging, extolling positivity and complementary dialogue. Some days it’s dark, gloomy, and very difficult to control as it heckles your every move, launching insults and anxiety-inducing plot lines one after another. It’s your own private boo-hiss party.
Boo (noun): a shout of disapproval or contempt
Booed; booing; boos (transitive verb): to express disapproval of
Have you ever been in a situation where you were booed? Maybe you’ve witnessed or participated in booing? Either way, booing leaves an indelible impression, especially upon its intended recipient. Most of us wouldn’t willingly or intentionally invite such an experience. Here’s the irony, the habit of predominantly negative self-talk and fixed mindset thinking (I can’t, it won’t work, it’ll never happen, etc.) on consistent replay in our minds is the equivalent of repetitively booing ourselves! As a result, our self-esteem, confidence, and overall well-being suffer the consequences of a harsh and judgmental inner critic.
Kathleen McClaskey recently shared an informative article regarding the importance of a common language to help every child understand and share how they learn. Clear, concise communication with others is crucial to relationships, advancements, and success. Equally, and perhaps more important, is the communication and conversation that happens inside of our private thoughts. Is your internal dialogue mostly positive or negative?
I could shout, email, text, and publicize accolades and admiration about you all day long. I could send you emails and text messages every hour, hire a band, rent a billboard, paint them on overpasses, and fill a stadium full of people who believe in you and your value in the world, but if YOU don’t believe in yourself, none of these measures will amount to a hill of beans. You’re with yourself more than anyone else. Therefore, the conversations going on inside your mind greatly affect your outcomes. What we think and believe about ourselves is the basis for pretty much everything in life. We can be our own advocate or adversary in how we choose to talk to and about ourselves. Since our brains are constantly engaged in conversation, aka thinking, it stands to reason that it’s important to make conscious awareness of the tone of our internal dialogue a daily priority. We can’t ‘boo’ ourselves into a happy, optimistic existence.
You, me, all of us matter irrespective of past failures, stumbles, and hiccups. Yes, life is difficult and we all face uncertainty and challenges along the way. All the more reason to think highly of ourselves and our abilities, while learning and growing from our experiences. Giving our inner-heckler free run to wreak havoc over our self-talk and beliefs is defeating and counterproductive, and can lead to anxiety, depression, demotivation, and discouragement. If you want to accomplish great things, first try being encouraging, kind, forgiving, and understanding toward yourself. You know, all those wonderful gestures you already do for others that you so richly deserve, too.
Developing Positive Self-Talk
How can we develop a more positive pattern of self-talk? Challenge yourself to make a habit of paying attention to the tone of your thinking patterns. To help instill supportive inner dialogue, give this writing assignment a try. Start an ‘I Matter’ notebook with responses to the two prompts below. I recommend doing this once a month, or more frequently if you would like.
First prompt: I know, like, and trust the following aspects of myself:
Second Prompt: I matter because (write at least one reason) …
After doing these writing prompts for some time, you will be able to see, in your own words, validation and reinforcement of your inherent awesomeness, definitely facts worth thinking about and repeating to yourself!