What are you talking to yourself?

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It’s what we whisper ourselves that has the most power.

How do you talk to yourself? Are you talking consciously or in an autopilot mode? Whether you call it inner dialogues or inner critic or self-talk, do you pause and observe that talk?

While working on mundane tasks and chores, it is quite common to forget to listen to ourselves. We won’t even notice what we are thinking or telling ourselves. Our mind is capable of parallel processing. While working on one task, many other thoughts would be running parallelly in our mind that goes on without getting noticed. Pause for a minute! Take notice of what is going in your mind.

A morning in Bangalore

Snooze that alarm and close the eyes and try to have a short nap. Before getting into that sweet nap, realize that it’s a working day, and the checklist appears in mind. Breakfast, lunch, boxes for packing, uniforms, ensuring that kids catch the school bus, start early to avoid peak hour rush, tasks at the office, bills to check, vegetables to buy, arrange for a courier pick up, oops! I have to miss my workout due to the snooze button…no time now, should have got up earlier and did some minimum exercise. What about school uniform, are they ironed or have do be done now? How to wake up kids and get them ready….Are there enough cookies for snacks? Should I pack some fruits and try? How to influence the kids so that they prefer to have fruits instead of cookies and chips. How to change the habit? What to pack for lunch so that box gets empty in the evening.

Am I doing something wrong? Not able to train the kids as my mom did. I don’t even know how to reduce screen time for kids. Being too strict is not easy. If I am saying softly, they won’t even bother. Already time to wake them up and send them for a bath. Time is flying, feeling suffocated with too many things at a time. Run, keep the towel on the doorknob, let me keep the uniform ready by the time milk boils. Oh, need to knock on the bathroom doors, getting late.

Can’t find the lid of the lunch box, let me use another one. Did I see a notebook on the coffee table, whether kids have packed the schoolbags? Let me just put it in the bag along with the lunch box. Oh, the mobile notification says the school bus is approaching. Are they ready? Hi there, what are you up to, finish your breakfast quickly, and go to the bus stop. Finally, the school bus has left, they have boarded. Let me get ready fast so that I could avoid the mad-rush on the road. Oh, it’s an 8’0 clock already. I should try to get up early. Somehow I need to include some workout time in the morning, which would be difficult in the evening. Better avoid dependency on others in the evening.

Whether the assignment is completed and taken? I could see some loose decked up paper there. I don’t have the energy to pick it and deliver it to school. I read somewhere that said the average breakfast time in some cities is three minutes. Am I eating or just managed to consume some food to ensure I am not hungry on the road while sailing through the traffic ocean.

After thought

What was happening in the previous scene? I was busy with morning activities. Could I observe my thought pattern or self-talks? No time to think about it. Hundreds of thought in between would have gone unnoticed. Shall we try to catch some of them that are easier to notice? What did you see?

Regrets on missing the workout, feeling of not good enough when it comes to kids food habit and screen time, should have done earlier (not done enough) thoughts while searching the lunch box and uniform, overwhelming thoughts while knocking on the bathroom doors and packing the lunch and so on. Do these thoughts affect us? Yes, by the time I start from home, I could get exhausted, not due to physical work but due to mental chatter not kind to me. It could create unnecessary stress in me. As a result, if I scream at kids to get them ready and send on time, later my mind pricks me that I should have handled the situation better.

Thus, this internal chatter or the self-talk keeps going on most of the time, whether we acknowledge or not. Unless we are conscious, it tends to gravitate towards negative. The situation or the people around you may also influence the self-talk. However, no one can notice it other than you.
You could use the self-talk as a tool for your benefit or pull you down, based on the way how you make use of it.

If your self-talk is negative, it makes you perceive most of the events from a negative angle and could stress you out. You may start believing that other people are trying to trouble you, and everything is working against you. It makes you think that you are enough to handle the situations and bog you down with worries. You may miss acknowledging the positive side of the events. Negative self-talk could create a pattern of negative thinking that can consume you in idle time and hurt you in different ways.

On the other side, positive self-talk can boost your energy and equip you to face any situation. If you try to cultivate an, I can attitude, which could help you to take on the challenges. Positive self-talks are practiced by the athletes to increase the motivation, performance, and confidence to compete better.

The first step to break the habit of negative self-talk is to be aware of it. You need to pause your thoughts for a while and rewind the situation in your mind like a flashback. Observe your behavior and the feelings in those specific situations. It could provide you some clues about the thought patterns. Note them down. Think about how you would have felt better if the thoughts were different and better ones.

It is not possible to remove those negative thoughts and talk easily. We cannot have a vacuum in mind. The best way to do is to replace them with a positive one or a neutral one that can be of benefit to you.

Tips to improve your self-talk:

  • Complete one thing in the morning that could help you to feel that you have accomplished something – Maybe an exercise regime, meditation, self-study, prayer, or some ritual of your choice.
  • Remember the good aspects of your life and be grateful for them – Writing a daily gratitude list or journal can be of help. Writing a journal will be of use in identifying the thought patterns also.
  • Take a dose of inspiring thoughts daily – A plenty of inspiring audiobooks and motivational talks are available on the Internet, which is of great use as we could allow some positivism to our mind while doing daily chores.
  • Listen or watch a humorous program that could draw a smile on your lips.
  • Affirmations – Repetition of appropriate thoughts could help us in achieving much more than just avoiding negative self-talk.
  • Be conscious of your thoughts, say Stop when you observe them in a negative direction and guide it towards the way which would be beneficial for you.
  • Whichever option you take, if you feel good continue till it becomes your second nature.

Charity begins at home. Let us be kind and enable ourselves to be happy and face the world in a better way.

—Anitha KC

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