During the recent period of quarantine that we are now hopefully emerging from, did the quality, pitch and timbre of your inner voice become more apparent to you? For many people, it became more noticeable, and what many people noticed was that they could clearly benefit from a massive upgrade of their self-talk!
In fact, kind and compassionate self-talk is perhaps the single most significant habit we can take on, to upgrade the quality of our lives.
All day long, our minds are giving us a running commentary on everything we are experiencing in life. For many of us, this running commentary can be momentarily positive…but then will swoop downwards and be quite negative…particularly if we have high expectations of ourselves and we don’t deliver. We can also be exceedingly harsh with ourselves when we feel like we have made a mistake about something, or exercised an error in judgment.
Do any of these statements sound familiar? “I’m so stupid!” “Why did I do that?” “You idiot!”
So let me ask you…who wants to listen to that? We wouldn’t want to hear these statements coming at us from a friend or family member, so why exactly do we tolerate it from ourselves? Mostly, because of habit. We are so used to not being kind to ourselves internally that we don’t even notice anymore. Unfortunately, for many of us, it has become normal to berate ourselves, so it doesn’t stick out.
The good news is: the moment we proactively work on shifting our “inner critic” to our “inner coach” is the moment we have more energy available to ourselves. It eats a lot of energy to withstand criticism, even from ourselves. This is very often why people who are depressed have little energy. They are critical of themselves and the choices they have made in the past. They may even have friends and family who are critical, and their inner being has no one to champion them.
Whatever the case may be, it becomes our responsibility to upgrade our self talk. I always encourage people to shift from being critical of themselves to being highly fascinated. Instead of “What the heck was I thinking?!” you say “Wow, I did that…(lost my wallet, said something mean about someone, did something hurtful)…fascinating!”
Be interested enough to examine your motivation, and then you can learn from your behavior. This gives us the opportunity to shift.
Example: “Wow, I lost my keys again! Fascinating how I can’t seem to hold on to them. Better make some more copies.” End of story. No judgment necessary.
Tougher example: “Wow, I said something so mean about that person! Guess I have some negativity that really needs to be cleared. Ok, next meditation, I will have to contemplate that.”
So observe your actions without being harsh. And coach yourself positively into helpful action.
Lastly, be free and liberal with your self-acknowledgment. A handful of us are too full of ourselves, and could use some humbling. But the majority of us would do well with being more positive and aware of all the good we do. Be sure to compliment yourself daily. Turn your inner critic into your inner champion and best support system. You will notice the difference, and so will those around you!