Self-talk is kind of a funny subject, and if it makes you roll your eyes or cringe on some level to think about reciting positive affirmations to yourself, and the cheesy factor is just too high, you’re not alone on this one. But it’s a worthy topic of exploration for many reasons.
Self-talk is about how you talk to yourself about yourself. It’s the always running internal monologue, the voice in our head, the constant commentary that is ever present between our ears. It may be something you’re aware of, or it may be something you’re not very conscious of, just like background chatter that we barely perceive. But it can have a very strong impact on how we think about ourselves and how we move about in the world, and it is closely linked with our perception of our self.
It’s especially easy to become familiar with your self-talk when you do something you perceive to be a mistake or embarrassing - if you berate yourself for messing up, being clumsy, foolish, being too loud, being too quiet, too shy, or “too much.” We may even lapse into calling ourselves names that we would never think to call someone that we cared for and loved.
Why become familiar with your inner monologue? Because it can exert a pretty big influence on our lives. It can really run the show. If you spend your time looking at Facebook or Instagram, and before you know it your self-talk is a raging dumpster fire of jealousy, self-loathing, and compare-and-despair - that’s an altogether very unpleasant and painful experience. Negative, painful, and critical self-talk can be a catalyst for depression, anxiety, and feelings of low self-worth. It can feed into and perpetuate feelings of helplessness and despair. It can perpetuate personal suffering and color the way we see the world and our place in it.
Just becoming aware of what you are saying to yourself is the first step. And it’s huge. You’ve got to give yourself credit for doing this. One of the ways to start to become familiar with your inner monologue is to engage in a meditation practice. You have a front row seat to that little voice that is constantly chattering all day long. You could also go to therapy. Or journal. Or look at yourself in the mirror and see what you start to tell yourself about yourself. There are many ways to start the process.
By doing this you are not at the mercy of this constantly chattering little voice in the background, always running the show. You can choose to listen to it when and if you want. You can disengage from it. You can see how it operates, what it is triggered by, what sets it off and what calms it down. You can even laugh at it. And most importantly, you can also work with it, influence it, and sculpt it to become more compassionate, clear, and wise.
Becoming aware of and reflecting on how we talk to ourselves is a fascinating journey into what it means to be a human being. It’s always interesting. And it’s a relief to know that we can make a better and wiser relationship with it.