Real talk about self-talk: most of us are kinda cruel. Observe your thoughts about yourself even for 20 minutes. Write down the kind ones and the rude comments. Which list is longer?
Those uncharitable thoughts hurt us more than we realize
None of this is new information. We know this, but how many of us are actively doing something to change our inner dialogue? How long are we going to suffer through untrue assessments of ourselves and continue to allow the thoughts in our head to shape how we see ourselves?
We need to decide enough is enough and take a stand. Choosing this as our practice right alongside asana. Hell, above asana. This has to stop and the time is now!
Okay, cool, so everyone’s on board, yes? Now, how to do fix this internal bug once and for all? We need a strategy. We might need several. The only place to begin is at the beginning.
Why are we addicted to thinking unkind thoughts?
I decided to do a little research on this. Not internet research, but old school asking individual people what their beliefs are about this incredibly important issue. Some of the answers may resonate, and some may surprise you.
- We don’t feel worthy. This can apply to anything from love to money, accolades, talent, success, travel, and even good health. When we don’t feel we deserve it, the thoughts that prove us right just won’t stop coming. It’s like a thought avalanche is happening on a constant basis to ensure we continue to feel this way.
- We feel pushed to challenge ourselves. By being hard on ourselves, we strive to do better. When we get too self-congratulatory, we rest on our laurels and think we’re finished growing. Since we’ll never fully actualized, critical thoughts propel us to constantly try harder. Hmm, not sure about this one, but more than a few people I talked to had arrived at the same conclusion. Seems like the same thing could be accomplished with encouraging thoughts….
- We are afraid. If we try and fail because we convince ourselves we can do it, then we have to come to the unwelcome conclusion that we were kidding ourselves. If we fully accept our flaws and deficits and don’t try, then we can’t fail.
Okay, obviously the common thread here is THIS IS SAD AND WRONG. None of this is going to help us become the best versions of ourselves. Remember the first time you stepped on a yoga mat? Was it a shit-show? Yeah, me too. But I believed with practice and time I’d get better. And I did. So did you. We have to try and we have to believe we are worthy and no amount of criticism is going to help us live the greatest lives we can. So what does work? What actually will help us permanently change our inner dialogue to a positive tune and achieve the outcomes we really desire?
1. Daily Pep Talks
Pep means positive y’all. Personally, I think it helps a ton to come up with a pet name for yourself or a term of endearment you apply only to you. You can borrow mine if you can’t think of one. I use ‘cutie pie’ because it makes me laugh and smile. When I catch myself in rumination mode, I stop and give myself this speech: “C’mon cutie pie, knock it off. You accomplish nothing but wasted time by spending yours on these thoughts. You are smart, talented, and loved. Go do something cool.”
Or, you can build this into your first thing in the morning routine so you set the day up for success. “Cutie pie, you’re going to have a fantastic day. You can see, hear, taste, smell, walk, talk and you just rolled out of an actual bed with sheets, pillows, the works. You have food to eat, things to drink, and interesting experiences to look forward to today. Go do good!”
2. Make a list
Build a list and keep adding on of things you love to do. Now go do one of them. That inner voice telling you unkind things can be silenced with action and participation. We all need a day to loaf around the house now and again. But for the most part, when we are engaged, active, and doing something we genuinely enjoy and feel good about, the critic inside takes a snooze. Start your list right now. There is no action too small not to cause a ripple. Walking your dog absolutely counts. Walking an elderly neighbor’s dog is pretty great too. Everytime you think of something new, just add it. Don’t do it mentally. Pen to paper, fingers to keypad, whatever works. But looking at your progressively growing list of activities that you love always gives you a directive when you’re sitting on your sofa thinking all of the thoughts that pull you in a different direction than the one you really want to go.
3. Do something kind anonymously
If you’ve done this before then you know how delicious it feels. And I really do think that’s the correct word here. It’s a juicy secret that you’re not bursting to share because it feels so good to be the only one to know it. Again, my life’s mantra is no action is small. Get creative. Take a walk in your neighborhood and look for ideas. I offer many ideas on my blog on giving. But the anonymous part is really important because not needing credit or a pat on the back changes the inner dialogue to a soundtrack that reminds you that you’re not just okay, you’re wonderful.