Every day, we give ourselves internal instructions — what to do, how to act, where to go, even the words to speak.
Most of the time we’re on course with our own authenticity, integrating with the world and those around us in a congruent relationship.
But sometimes, our internal conversations remind us of those things we haven’t done or accomplished — or the people who disappointed or upset us.
We experience a rising discomfort level — and dissatisfaction with the supposed realities of life.
The good news is we have the ability to create a more constructive dialogue designed to positively influence our thoughts and behavior — and it’s completely under our control.
It’s Hard Not to Talk to Ourselves
We’re doing it all the time.
And occasionally, we need to listen in, to really hear what our inner voice is saying and, if necessary, give it a little nudge in a positive direction.
I’m the first to admit I’m guilty of allowing my mind to wander to the dark side.
For example, here’s a bit of dialogue I’ve said to myself, more times than I like to admit: “I haven’t been to the gym in a week.”
I’ve tried to justify my lack of gym time with my old stand-by excuses: “I don’t have the time. I’m overwhelmed with work. I’m too tired.”
But once I realized I was rationalizing poor habits with negative self-talk, I decided to reframe my much-too-comfortable rationalizations into constructive action.
Now, when I suspect I’m about to talk myself out of a well-spent hour of exercise, my inner voice immediately offers a motivational boost of encouragement: “Today, I’m going to the gym for a great workout!”
Here’s another one of my “excuses” that’s always lingering just under the surface:
“I Don’t Have Time to…”
Go to the store and buy healthy food
Plant an herb garden
Clear out my closets
Wash the car
Finish my weekly/monthly meal plan
For many of us, we’ve become accustomed to berating ourselves with reasons for unaccomplished tasks, minor as they may seem.
Everything we leave undone or unfinished plants a potentially destructive seed that, if left unchallenged, can eventually grow into a major hurdle to success.
Worse, this pattern of avoidance can have a domino effect, and if we ride that self-serving pity train for too long, it can snowball into an impossible roadblock, preventing us from considering positive solutions or alternatives.
If we’re not willing to switch off a negative mindset, we may even convince ourselves we’re entitled to wallow in our own excuses, because maybe it wasn’t that important to begin with — at least, that’s what we tell ourselves.
What I’m suggesting isn’t procrastination — that’s a different animal completely. Procrastination is a choice — a self-imposed decision made willingly and, usually, without regret or intent to perform.
So how do we side-track negative self-dialogue and take control of our thoughts?
Here are a few tips that have helped me align with my positive nature.
Initially, Let Your Doubts and Rationalizations Have a Voice
This doesn’t mean agreeing with it, but just visually observing it from above, as if you’re looking down on an object without judgment.
This process gives you an opportunity to evaluate the validity of the discomfort or complaint, and determine if it’s legitimate.
Challenge Negative Thoughts
Once you’ve determined the source of the problem, examine it as objectively as possible, and then dig for the real reason your mind is creating a pessimistic response.
In most cases, you’ll discover a “foundational issue” — something that reflects a reluctance in resolving a problem, dealing with an unpleasant person or situation, or some other difficulty that keeps you from moving forward peacefully and with kindness.
Imagine the disruptive idea as a “text balloon” hovering over your head, connected by a string to your mind.
Then picture yourself with a pair of sharp scissors cutting the string, and watching the balloon float away until it’s no longer visible — or reachable.
Create a Short, Daily Session for Self-talk.
Approach this “inner conversation” with a fresh, clear mindset, giving yourself permission to focus on the positive aspect of the issues.
Talk to yourself with encouraging words, and allow a feeling of confidence, trust, and comfort to guide you.
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