Published on Mar 14, 2020 by Dr. Les Parrott
On a downtown bus, just as it is pulling in to its next stop, a woman stands up, slaps the face of the man next to her, and hurries to the exit. Each passenger who saw what happened reacts in their own way.
- A middle-aged man feels sad for the man who was slapped.
- A younger woman is frightened.
- A teenage boy is angry.
- Another woman feels excited.
How could the same event trigger such an array of varying emotions?
The answer is found in self-talk.
Self-talk is the internal dialogue that goes on inside you throughout each day. I imagine you’ve caught yourself having these inner-conversations from time-to-time. Sometimes they are positive, as you dream of a new future. Oftentimes they are not so positive. Maybe you’ve had one of these negative conversations already today: deciding it would be a bad day before you even left the house; fearing you would fail like you did last time; worried people might not like that new idea you plan to share in this morning’s meeting…. Self-talk like this has a huge impact on how you feel about yourself. In fact, it may surprise you to hear that it’s the single most important determinant of whether you feel loved, respected or appreciated.
Why The Words You Say to Yourself Matter
Consider the facts for a second…
- Approximately 70 percent of your waking day is spent in one or more types of communication
- Research suggests that you talk privately to yourself at the rate of 400-4,000 words per minute
- This internal conversation is never turned off
- It runs even while you sleep, monitoring your thoughts and feelings of significance
- AND also influencing your hopes and dreams!
Your Self-Talk forms who you are. The problem is, most of the time you have little conscious awareness of this. So you can become as successful as you want, earn more money and buy more things, even become that version of yourself that you dream about… but so long as your self-talk is at the wheel, you face an uphill battle.The good news is, scientifically speaking, you can bug your own inner conversations. You can listen in to your internal dialogue as it happens. Most important, you can use it to uncover your profound significance.
Self-Talk not only originates in the mind; it could be argued that the human mind is self-talk. Remember that story from earlier; the one where the woman slapped the man on the bus?
Each passenger reacted in a different way. The reason is because of their Self-Talk.
- The middle-aged man who reacted with sadness thought to himself, ‘He’s lost her, and he’ll never get her back’.
- The fearful woman thought, ‘She is really going to pay a price for that tonight when he sees her at home’.
- The angry teenager says to himself, ‘She humiliated him; she must be a real jerk’.
- The woman who felt excited said to herself, ‘Serves him right. What a strong woman; I wish I was more like that’.
These thoughts instantaneously took place where each person interpreted, judged, and labeled what had happened. Their individual self-talk impacted their emotions, feelings and reactions. As a result, this directs their beliefs! To a large degree, you prescribe to what you say to yourself when nobody else is listening.
How to Control Your Internal Dialogue in 5 Steps
Because your self-talk originates in your mind, it’s possible to consciously listen into what’s being said, interpret the meaning differently and take control of what you do next.
I’ve dedicated much of my latest book ‘Healthy Me, Healthy Us’ to this process. It’s amazing the impact self-talk has on your relationship with yourself, your relationships with those you love, your beliefs on the past, and your dreams for the future. By taking control of this subconscious process you can dramatically change your life.
Step 1: Self-Talk Isn’t Always Bad.
What you say and think to yourself becomes what you feel. Negative self-talk will have a negative impact on your feelings. Whereas positive self-talk increases your belief and faith in yourself. It isn’t that self-talk is bad in itself. Your inner conversations have a powerful impact on your emotional well-being. Becoming aware of what you’re saying can help you understand why you react the way you do. It can help you figure out who you are, control your moods, repeat your successes, and short-circuit your shortcomings. The key, of course, is to uncover exactly what you’re saying when you talk to yourself.
Step 2: Never Give Up.
Self-Talk played a huge role in helping Great Britain triumph during World War II. Although his life was racked by emotional neglect, parental hypocrisy, and excessive expectations, Winston Churchill kept saying the right things to himself.
He kept believing in himself as a human being. He demonstrated this during a commencement speech he made at Harrow School in 1941. Approaching the podium with his trademark cigar, cane, and top hat, he gave a speech that consisted of only six words…“Never give up,” he shouted after a few seconds of silence. More silence followed before he rose to his toes and shouted once more, “Never give up!”
“I can. I will. End of story.”
Step 3: Seek Rational, Logical Self-Talk.
The best kind of self-talk is rational.
It says, ‘I choose my responses; they don’t choose me’.
It says, ‘No thought can dwell in my mind without my permission’.
It says, ‘My value does not equal my performance’.
We all have those irrational and illogical thoughts that come to mind. We must look past these and search for the rational kind. These are the only ones that allow us to regain control.
Step 4: Find Inner Inspiration.
If you look for inspiration from outside of yourself…Social media, Books, Mentors, Famous people…Inspiration like this never lasts. Long-lasting and life-transforming inspiration has to arise from a deeper place. It needs to come from within you: a purpose, a belief, a vision or a dream… faith!
Step 5: Open Your Heart To God.
As the French philosopher Blaise Pascal once said: “There is an “infinite abyss” in the heart of each of us that can be filled only by God. And until we fill that abyss with God’s love—until we feel it deep in our beings—our sense of worth and significance becomes illusive.” Faith plays a huge role when taking control of your Self-Talk. Whether you believe in God or simply something “bigger” than yourself…It’s important that you open your heart to it so you can finally let go of ego, self-doubt, insecurities, judgment from others and outdated beliefs. Unless you take control, your self-talk will likely control you. It is possible to destroy the toxic self-talk that holds you back. I’ve seen countless people overcome it. At times, it seems impossible. Yet time-and-time again I’ve witnessed people revolutionize their lives, relationships and more. This process begins with realizing that not all self-talk is bad. Some of it is good, and you are made up of both.