While we talk to other people in the external world, we are also talking to ourselves in what could be described as the internal world. And this is a dialogue that takes place from the moment one wakes up and until they go to sleep at night.
But in many ways it doesn’t stop there, as one can carry this on when they are asleep. Here, one can have dreams and these can play out the same scenarios and make one feel as they did during the day. So this process can’t be stopped, but fortunately it can be changed.
And although self talk and positive thinking can appear to be the same thing, they are two different things. Positive thinking is something one generally does consciously, where as self talk is something that goes on automatically and without one having to think about it.
This could be something one notices during most moments in their life, or something they only become aware of during certain situations. In is during these situations that one knows exactly what self talk is and if it’s nurturing and kind it won’t be a problem. But if this talk is critical or abusive, it will cause all kinds of problems.
One of the reasons why it is hard to even notice this voice is because it could have been in full force for so long. And so it is not seen as an intruder and as something that doesn’t belong there, it is taken as normal.
It is the only thing one knows and therefore one has nothing to compare it with, in order to see how unhealthy this voice is. Without something to compare it with, one has no way of realising that it is not normal or healthy, it is abnormal and unhealthy.
Now, for someone people, their self talk could be fine and only bring them down on the odd occasion. And there will be others who are fine in some contexts and then ‘beat themselves up’ in others. One could also be in a position where their self talk is disempowering no matter where they are or what they are doing.
So there are many different types of self talk and these can be ones that uplift someone and make them feel relaxed, calm and at peace with themselves on one side of the spectrum. And on the other side, they could lead to one feeling worthless, useless and failure for instance.
While the voices in one’s head can create one set of problems, what adds to this are the feelings that appear as a result. One can then talk themselves into feeling a certain way. And when this process goes on out of one’s awareness, they could just end up feeling down and subdued without having any idea why.
It could something that happens so fast that one thinks it is due to an external reason. And while there could well be an external influence, it is often through how one talks to themselves as a result of what happened that made them feel as they do.
The impact of self talk is far and wide and something that could stop someone from doing many things. One could talk themselves out of going after their dream job or career. And when it comes to talking to some they are attracted to, they could end up talking themselves out of it and not once, but on every occasion.
One could have the desire to buy something or to treat themselves and end up going without what they both need and deserve. To get things wrong form time to time and to make mistakes is part of being human, but this can cause someone to see themselves as a failure.
It has been said that we won’t let others treat us any worse than we treat ourselves. While one can’t know how someone talks to themselves, they can see what they put up with and what they don’t.
So how they let others treat them and how they treat others, is one way of seeing how someone talks to themselves. And how one is spoken to by others can gradually be internalised and become a part of them. If this is positive and empowering it won’t be a problem, but if it’s not, then one could suffer if they are around this person for too long.
This then leads to the reasons why one would talk to themselves in this way in the first place. The kind of people one has spent their time with in their adult life can lead to a healthy inner voice and to an unhealthy one. But the primary influences will be how ones caregivers responded to them and to each other when they were younger.
During ones childhood they will have many, many moments of hearing their caregiver’s voices and come to accept their reactions and responses as normal. And if these early moments were filled with love, support and encouragement on most occasions, then one is likely to be fine.
But if one was around caregivers who were critical, judgmental or shaming in most cases or at certain moments, then one could have grown up to speak to themselves in the same way.
One of the main things here will be to notice what is going on in one’s mind and to start to observe what is taking place. This is the first stage and from here, change can take place. Fortunately self talk is not fixed and can be changed over time.
One way of doing this is to spend time with people who are supportive or loving and through being around them, one can internalise these new ways. And this could be a friend, coach, therapist or through listening to an audio book.
Another thing that might be necessary is to deal with the emotions and feelings that have been trapped in one’s body. Because even though one’s self talk can be trigger how they feel, it could be the other way around. So as one lets go of the feelings and emotions, the mind will also settle down as a result.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.