One of the most beneficial things I have done over the last year was to write my newest book on self-talk, Self-Talk for a Calmer You. When Adams Media reached out and inquired about my interest in writing on this topic, I was thrilled. As a hypnotherapist and corporate coach, I have long known the power of self-talk – both to help us and to hurt us.
It was an unexpected gift for me personally to write the book because as I was writing, I realized how little I pay attention to my own self-talk. Oh, I use my self-talk well when I think about it: I set goals, I calm myself when I feel anxiety coming on, I speak positively about new situations I am entering. I thought I had a handle on my own self-talk. That is, until I started to write.
At times I would be writing about something that I have experienced or something that I have learned, and my attention would come back to my own self-talk. I would realize how throughout the day I had allowed self-talk that was negative and useless chatter to run my life. I had control of the “big” things, but the little day-to-day natterings were going unnoticed.
I would realize I was talking to myself about all I had to do and wondering “How will I get it all done?” I was talking to myself about my children; “They are growing up so fast. I am going to miss them when they leave for college.” I was talking to myself about finances; “I should probably return that new bag I bought. I really don’t need it – why do I buy stuff that I don’t need sometimes?” I would talk to myself about my parents and their health, about my pets and their needs, about the weather, about what I was going to do tomorrow, and on and on and on.
The chatter was more consistent than I would have dreamed possible, and only by having the opportunity to stop and recognize what I was saying to myself did I become aware of how frequently and incessantly the little voice speaks.
There isn’t anything wrong with self-talk on its own; it’s the self-talk that brings us down and derails us that hurts. If we are speaking confidently and calmly to ourselves, our day seems to go well. If we are worrying, or allowing anxiety to creep in or telling ourselves how terrible things will be, our day is more negative. The problem is that we are mostly unaware of what’s happening in our own minds. Why would we tell ourselves things that hurt us? Why would we say things that turn our day more negatively? There is nothing beneficial about it, and yet we do it all of the time.
Take the opportunity this week to pay attention to your self-talk. Feeling down? Identify what you are saying to yourself. Feeling blue or depressed but you can’t figure out why; what’s your self-talk? Feeling angry, frustrated or annoyed – what words are you using to describe your experiences?
Self-talk has the power to be very valuable. And it has the power to bring us down. Use your self-talk wisely. Don’t allow it to tell you things that aren’t good for you. Whoever is talking should be using language that builds you up and gives you energy – listen carefully!