People who lose their capacity for using inner speech due to brain impairments have reported memory problems as well as a reduced sense of identity. As one example, prominent neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor experienced a massive stroke in 1996 that resulted in a complete loss of inner speech. As she later described in her book, My Stroke of Insight, losing inner speech also led to problems with self-awareness, loss of biographical memories, and even losing those emotions related to self-consciousness. Source: Listening to Your Inner Voice
So we know that inner speech is actually important…but what are you saying to yourself up there?
The inner thoughts are always running a constant commentary in your head. Sometimes you might fancy you are on a comedy show, other times it’s a damn tragedy up in there, and yet others, well, no one would want to know what you were thinking about yourself…and you wouldn’t dare speak that way out loud.
That little voice can make you or break you all in a day. I want that to really sink in. Think about how you are phrasing certain things after something has happened. For example, if you catch sight of yourself in the mirror, do you think “Wow. Okay, I am losing a bit of definition. It’s time to go to the gym.” << Motivating. Or “What fresh hell is this? How much weight have I put on lately? That can’t possibly be my ass?” << Not really helpful, huh?
That voice is your constant companion, even when you wish it would take a ride elsewhere, but that is actually why I started off with a quote and excerpt from one of my favorite TED talks (to this day I still cry when I watch it). So it is time that we nurture it in a way that can move mountains for us. A little self-criticism is okay, but if you start to notice a pattern that is detrimental, well it can be associated with more stress producing thoughts and depressive moods. It is time to look at the following things and start doing the inner work on that voice.
7 Ways to Improve What You are Saying to Yourself:
Notice when it happens. It doesn’t just come out of nowhere, right? Awareness will help you stop it before it gets out of control. Has it got something to do with your self-esteem? Is it long-buried feelings that were programmed in from childhood? Is it an authority figure who makes you doubt yourself? Key thought: You can’t change other people. You can only work to change yourself so what they say about you is really none of your business. I get that this isn’t always easy to achieve. If you have been hearing the same things for a while and that sparks the same inner talk, you might want to consider some boundaries, but we will get to that in a bit.
Put your inner voice in a time-out. How in the world does one do this? Yoga, meditation, running, walking in nature, something that gets you out of your head and into your body. I say this all the time as many of you might know, but we spend far too much time inside our own heads, and less and less out in the real world. Key thought: Notice the inner critic…then mentally say time-out. Get up and move. Meditation doesn’t have to be hours on a mountain top in Tibet. This isn’t The Golden Child. You can watch that movie later to get out of your head too, but seriously, it really does help to do some physical activity that gets you moving.
Repeat a positive mantra. So what’s the difference in a mantra and a positive affirmation? Nothing much really, I just wanted to use mantra and sound all yogic-like for a minute. Again, I don’t want you to think you have to sit in a loin cloth or robe and chant “Om Namah Shivaya”, although my buddy Girish has an amazing voice and totally rocks chanting. And having him lead you in a
room tent full of people is pretty amazing. But again, it is often misunderstood as to how you can use these affirmations or mantras so let’s keep it simple. Key thought: When a negative thought arises, change it to a positive one. I can’t ever lose weight. << Negative. To>> I have the power to do anything I put my mind to. << Positive. Now try it today and keep it positive.
Journal a positive outcome. Do I use this most often? Yes. Do I teach this most often? Yes. One member in my club said that when she did this exercise before something she was dreading attending the next day, that it turned out much better and she felt calmer. Like she controlled the outcome of the event. It is that powerful. That is one of the reasons I use this most often to take back control of the thoughts in my head and teach it to the Head|Heart|Health Club. Key thought: Control your day before it controls you. Make it a practice to journal the night before something “scary” like a review from a boss, an interview or anything that causes you stress and anxiety.
Negative Nelly needs boundaries. Here she comes again. That co-worker who wants to cause drama, chaos and destruction in your life. It’s like Die Hard up in your office when she is around. Okay, fine, so maybe it isn’t some hostile takeover, but it almost feels that way after you have been in her presence. If you don’t want your office to become Nakatomi Plaza, then put some security in place. Name the tops 5 people you are most around. Consider their actions, their posts, their words. Do they make fun of people? Do they seem to always have something horrible happen to them that they have to run and tell you about? Are they always sharing the worst things that happen in the news? << Ah-ha. Where do their thoughts go again and again? Be careful here and limit the time you spend with such people. Key thought: Get some new friends. I am not kidding here. My tag line is “Surround yourself with what you want to become” for a reason. If you give them an inch, watch how they take a mile. Make a list of key traits that you admire. Compare that to a few of the more negative people in your life. You’ll know when the time is right to distance yourself and move on. Watch your thoughts improve.
Stay in this moment. I use many old references from the 80’s. I get that. But one of the things that I absolutely work daily, and I do mean daily on, is keeping my thoughts as close to this moment as I can. Old me had a very difficult time staying present. I work to remove distractions, stay present, stay focused, and not re-visit things I can’t change. On a scale of how hard is this? I would put it off the scale to be honest. That is why it is imperative that you start this process right now. It gets easier as you continue to implement the tools listed here. Example: I wish I was skinny like I was in ___ insert best year. Reality: That year was probably before you became an adult, or had a life, a career, and kids. Too many people focus on what they had, and what they lost instead of what they have to gain. Key thought: An action you can do right now to move forward is? List it. List your daily actions to make progress on your goals. This doesn’t have to be where will I be in a year? No. This is only this week. What can I do this week that will help me with my goal of ___?
Embrace your inner critic in a warm hug. I am going to be honest, the last thing I want to do is hug my inner critic. However, that is what I must do. Embrace the thoughts as they arise, examine them for what they truly are, fear, negativity, and doubt, and then let them go on their way. i am going to replace them with hope, positivity, and mental “bad assery” instead. I don’t have time to keep fighting myself. It gets really old. Key thought: Embrace your imperfections. Use them to propel you forward in a new direction. I know you can do this.
If for one second you doubt your power, please read a bit more about my Club and what we do. It’s like a journal/yoga/affirmation subscription for your mind and it is great for people who want to work on changing their thoughts, but don’t know where to begin. >> Learn More <<