How to Make Your Inner Voice a More Compassionate Companion
Some tweaks to your vocabulary to positively change your inner dialogue.
“Damn, I’m no longer Spider-Man.”
I wake up, and my adventure ends. Gone are the weird narratives of my dreams, replaced with a list of things I “need” to do. I already feel behind — my inner voice cursing me.
Our inner voice never leaves us, yet we often neglect it. Negative self small-talk can diminish self-belief and your ability to do something, even if you don’t realize it.
Through some simple tweaks to your everyday vocabulary, you too can attack the day with a shield of positivity and compassion protecting you.
Make Your To-Do Lists Kinder
I’ve experimented with different to-do lists, yet I rarely seemed to finish them.
I’m not alone, as a survey conducted by leadership training company VitalSmarts, found 3 in 5 people don’t complete the set tasks. 1 in 3 always have more outstanding tasks than they are capable of completing.
Instead of fixating on the number of tasks I have, I’ve changed how my approach. Once I have written everything out, I make a note below the table, which reads “Bonus tasks:”
I’ll fill this with stuff that isn’t essential but needs doing at some point. It could be emptying the bins, ordering a new duvet set, or buying more vegetables for next week. I’m not demanding myself to do it. It’s a bonus to my day if I do.
This way, you’re giving yourself a bit of leeway. Some days don’t go according to plan, so you won’t finish everything you intended.
More lenient language helps you come to an understanding with yourself.
Feel Less Guilty About Spending Money on Yourself
For most of my life, I’ve experienced what The Guardian calls “money dysmorphia” — the anxiety you may feel after buying something for yourself.
For example, while I understand how privileged I am to spend £250 on a pair of headphones, I still looked at the prices in the following weeks and months, getting anxious if they were cheaper. Even a year later, I checked and felt the anxiety swelling up inside me as I thought I had wasted money.
Money dysmorphia could lead to you choosing cheaper and worse services. You may end up in a terrible hotel on holiday when you could have afforded a nicer one.
To tackle the root of the problem, make a minor tweak to your vocabulary.
Money isn’t being “wasted,” it’s being “invested.” With this approach, you’re giving your money a purpose — practical or emotional.
It’s not a seed blowing away with the wind; it’s falling to the ground to grow a tree of its own.
Some Sneaky Tweaks to Help You Enjoy Change
Now and then, I’ll tell myself I “need to go on a diet” or “need to exercise more.” Without realizing it, my inner dialogue led to self-loathing. I’m not in bad shape, but I made myself believe I was.
By saying you “need” to change something about yourself, you’re suggesting where you are now is wrong. Instead, frame it like this:
- “I’m going to exercise more next week.”
- “I’m choosing a healthier lifestyle from now on.”
Words like “going to” and “choosing” make any change feel like growth rather than punishment. Moreover, these verbs can increase your chances of actually doing what you say you “need” to do. Spot the difference in this example:
- “I need to exercise today.”
- “I’m going for a run today.”
The first leaves you open to not exercising. You could just as quickly say, “I can’t be bothered” — it’s like you’re rebelling against yourself. With the second, you’re making the exercise part of your day. It’s less demanding and more compassionate.
Make Compassionate Self-Talk Routine
Initially, you may notice it is difficult to get out of the habit. I still sometimes find myself saying, “I need to” do something, which automatically means I’m less likely I’ll do it.
Instead of pitting yourself against your inner voice, it’s time to team up.
Your inner voice is the one you hear the most, so act as if you’re trying to impress it. Think of it as putting on some warm slippers for your mind. Just as they provide warmth and comfort for your feet, more compassionate self-talk can help you glide through your day.
Before you know it, you’ll feel like Spider-Man swinging through everything life has to throw at you.
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