Have you ever found yourself speaking in a fairly derogatory manner to yourself? From the simplest and seemingly benign: ‘You idiot! You’ve done it again, haven’t you? You’ll never learn! God! How useless!’ to much harder and darker statements that smash into the mind much as a wrecking ball demolishes brick walls.
It can be interesting to write down, in private of course, some of the phrases we constantly use in our self-talk that have become so habitual as to pass by our radar of what is acceptable or not.
We write these things down and then imagine using them, actually speaking them aloud, to our best friend. Notice the sensations that come up in the body at the mere thought of this; ‘I’d NEVER speak to anyone else like that!!!’ is probably the first response. So, what makes it ok to do it to ourselves?!
Did you know that every time we have a thought, the body responds to that thought through a release of hormones? If the mind perceives the thought as a threat or a challenge, it will activate the flight or flight response in order to protect us and keep us safe- thus, cortisol and adrenaline are released. Their job is to prepare the body to either fight the threat or run away from it. If the threat is real and we physically react as previously stated, then we make use of the stress hormones as they were designed. However, if the threat is not ‘real’ but ‘imagined’ as a negative thought that we generate over and over, the cortisol and adrenaline remain in the body with detrimental effects: tense muscles, headache, stomach and digestive upset, a compromised and weakened immune system. Not only does our negative self-talk affect our self-esteem but it also causes a lack of ease in the body which, overtime can, literally become dis-ease (disease) not to mention the fallout that happens in the mind.
Just as negative self-talk has a detrimental effect on the body & mind, positive self-talk has the opposite. This doesn’t mean that we use exaggerated phrases that don’t ring true, ‘I’m great!’ ‘I do everything perfectly first time’ etc. Rather, we use words that are congruent with where we’re at and that can take us from our negative habitual patterns to more encouraging ones. The simple phrase ‘I used to think I was (fill in issue – too fat/thin/tall/short etc) but I’m working on it now’ takes into consideration how we are currently feeling.
Rather than going from ‘I can’t dance’ to ‘I’m a great dancer’, which just ‘feels’ wrong as it’s so incongruent with our image of what we can or can’t do, we might use ‘I used to think I couldn’t dance, but I’m working on it now’. Notice the difference this phrase makes. We’re actually dropping the suggestion into the subconscious mind that we’re willing to work on whatever we once perceived as a defect or problem. The subconscious mind does as it’s told and now begins to adjust to this new way of thinking. It begins to ‘work on it’ and gradually and subtly, changes in the new neural pathways being created with this new thinking, bring about new and more positive habits. Before we know it, we are beginning to see ourselves and the world through a new and more positive perspective.
You, literally, are what you think habitually. If you want to be happy and successful, then feed yourself the right diet of encouraging and inspirational thoughts. You will be glad you did!