How Do You Talk to Yourself?Oct 12, 2022
I bet you haven’t thought of yourself as a storyteller or editor, but you really are.
Every day, we tell ourselves stories about what is happening in our lives, in an effort to make sense of it. And as you may well imagine, some of the stories we tell ourselves are positive, and some are negative. But the underlying fact is that we have a fair amount of impact over how we interpret the happenings. This is powerful!
Are you familiar with the saying “There are three sides to a story: Your side, my side, and then the truth?” This exemplifies the fact that our perspective is very subjective and may even change over time. It suggests that there isn’t just one way to look at things, and that by looking at the same thing in a different way, it can change your interpretation of it.
Another way of looking at this is that the circumstance is just that: the circumstance. The layer of meaning we add on afterward is a messy mix of our own life experiences, culture, and lessons we have learned or taken on from family and friends. It’s what makes our own experience of life so unique. And, it can be changed.
This is important because we tend to default to telling negative stories especially about ourselves. So often I find that we talk to ourselves in a manner that we would never use with those we love. It’s a sad but interesting realization but one that we can change once we are aware of it — because our words matter.
Are you telling negative stories about yourself? How can you change that? Image: Pexels - Liza Summer
Another saying I love is: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. But how is that? Changing the way you look at something involves telling a different story about it and changing your interpretation of it. And it’s entirely possible to do, although it doesn’t happen overnight.
So how can we go about changing some of our thoughts to more helpful, empowering, and positive thoughts?
Three Steps to Changing Your Thoughts:
Step One: Don’t Believe Everything You Think
The first step involves being curious. Did you know that a human mind has approximately 60,000 thoughts running through it per day and about 90% of them are on repeat?? But a thought that you picked up many years ago may not be true today. Remember that a thought is just that: a thought. If you have ever tried meditating, you know how difficult it is to try to “stop” thoughts from happening. Instead, NOTICE the thought. Realize that it might not be true or accurate. Then, move on to step two.
Step Two: Challenge the Thought
One of my favorite books on this subject is called “Soundtracks” by Jon Acuff. He recommends challenging our thoughts with three questions:
- Is it true?
2. Is it helpful?
3. Is it kind?
This has been extremely impactful for me. Start putting some of your thoughts under the microscope and poking holes in the thoughts that are untrue, unhelpful, and/or unkind. This is the first step to breaking that loop!
Are you able to challenge your thoughts? Image: Pexels - EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA
Here are some other questions that might also help:
- What can I learn from this?
- Is what I am thinking about this situation helpful?
- Is what I am thinking about this situation even truthful? Would a good friend of mine also come to the same conclusion after observing the same thing happening?
- Is it possible that there is another “side” to this story that I may not be aware of?
- How can I turn this around — even slightly!?
Step Three: Be Patient with Yourself
Changing our thoughts takes time, as does anything worth doing. And this is definitely worth doing. The good news is that you are ultimately always in control. You GET to change the way you look at things and the story you tell yourself. It’s incredibly empowering to start to change your story and realize that just because it’s a thought, doesn’t mean it’s true, and it doesn’t mean you have to believe it.
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