My last post was about keeping an eye, or an ear, on the language we use as we are talking with other people, and how it can impact both their view of us and our own self-confidence. Today I am going to write about the inner talk.
By this I mean the words we use either in our head, and occasionally that we say out loud to ourselves when we think no-one is listening.
Wayne Dyer, author and motivational speaker said “You are what you think about all day long.” Basically, whoever you actually are, you start off by being in your mind. Your thoughts about yourself have great impact on who you are. That might sound a bit woo to you, but your inner thoughts drive your mindset. And mindset affects everything.
I have spoken before about the way we talk to ourselves about our appearance. Do go and have a look at that post – if you haven’t seen the video before it is well worth a watch. But it isn’t just our thoughts about our appearance that matter. Our mindset is our whole belief system – yes, how we think about the way we look and our self-confidence but also what we think about our abilities, our values, our ambition, our self-worth.
The problem with the words we use to ourselves is that we don’t often consciously hear them – when we start listening we tend to stop thinking them in the first place. Then once we are no longer listening they pop back up, shaping your subconscious. Working out what we say to ourselves, the limitations we put on ourselves, doesn’t come automatically. Sometimes the words we speak inside our head make great sense – common sense in fact. You know, the one which reminds you to look before you cross the road is something you learned as a child, and saves your life on a regular basis. We want to keep on with that kind of inner dialogue.
It’s not just the thoughts we have about ourselves. It is also the thoughts we have about our situation, about the world around us. When something unfortunate happens the quiet “typical” we mutter to ourselves, or the “just my luck”. Thoughts that involve “always” or “never” often reinforce negative beliefs.
So what can we take as a first step towards modifying the harmful words we use to ourselves? One of the first things I do with clients – all clients – is look at developing an affirmation, or, in non-self help speak, a kind of motto. A motto that you repeat to yourself until you believe it. At the beginning they resist. I resisted when this idea was first presented to me. I totally get resistance to this exercise. But trust me, the more you repeat your motto to yourself the more you will believe it.
Keep it simple and to start with, pick something that doesn’t sound too out there. Mine, for many years was quite simply “you rock.” I said it to myself when I looked in the mirror and it always made me smile and feel a tiny tad more confident. How about something like “trust yourself” or “I choose to be kind to myself?” Keep saying it, believe in it, and gradually you will use kinder and kinder words to and about yourself and your surroundings. And as you feel more comfortable with this kind of work you can pick mottos for different circumstances, or more complex situations.