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 as 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 ourselves. We won’t even notice what we are thinking or telling ourselves. Our mind is capable of parallel processing. Though you are working on a specific task, most of the time another application will be running in the background that goes on without getting noticed. Pause for a minute! Observe, what is going inside your mind and what are you telling yourself.

A morning in Bangalore

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

Am I doing some thing wrong? Not able to train the kids like my mom did…I don’t even know how to reduce screen time for kids, being strict is not easy, they rebel..If I am saying smoothly, they won’t even bother… it’s already time to wake them up and send them for bath..Time is flying…Feeling suffocated with too many things at a time…Run, keep the towel on the door knob, let me keep the uniform ready by the time milk boils…Oh, need to knock the bathroom doors, it is getting late.

Can’t find the lid of the lunch box..let me use another one. Did I see a note book on coffee table..have they packed the school bags? Let me just put it in the bag, while keeping the lunch box, Mobile notification says school bus is approaching..are they ready? Hi there, what are you up to, finish your breakfast quickly and go to bus stop. Finally, school bus has left, they have boarded. Let me get ready quickly so that I could avoid the mad-rush on the road. Oh, it’s 8’0 clock already…I should try to do faster tomorrow, need to get up early. Some how I need to include some workout time to avoid dependency on other in the evening…

Wonder, whether the assignment is completed and taken..looks like some loose paper is here..I don’t have energy to pick it and deliver to school. I read somewhere which said average breakfast time in some city is 3 minutes. Am I eating or just managed to consume some food to ensure I am not hungry on road, while sailing through the traffic ocean.

After thought

What was happening in the previous scene? I was busy with the 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 the them that are easier to notice…what do 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 the bath room doors and packing the lunch and so on…Do these thoughts affect us? Yes, by the time I start from home, could get easily exhausted, not due to physical work but due to mental chatter that is unkind 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 again 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 has the tendency 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.

Self-talk could be used as a wonderful tool for your development or as an weapon against you, 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 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 and you are not equipped to handle the situations and may get bogged down with worries. You may miss to acknowledge the positive side of the events completely. Negative self-talk could create a pattern of negative thinking that can consume you in the idle time and hurt you in different ways.

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

To break the negative self-talk, first step is to be aware of it. You need to pause your thoughts for a while and rewind the situation in your mind as a flashback. Observe your behavior and the feelings in that specific situations. It could provide you some clues about the thought patterns. Make note of them. Think how you would have felt better if those thoughts were replaced with better ones.

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

Tips to improve your self-talk:

  • Complete one thing in morning that could help you to feel that you have accomplished something – May be 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 daily gratitude list or journal can be of help. Writing journal will be of use in identifying the thought patterns also.
  • Take a dose of inspiring thoughts on daily basis – A plenty of inspiring audio books, motivational talks & Songs, are available on Internet, which are of great use as we could allow some positivism to our mind, while we are busy at daily chores.
  • Listen or watch a humorous program that could draw smile on your lips.
  • Affirmations – Repetition of appropriate affirmation 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 negative direction and guide yourself towards good thoughts.
  • Whichever you select for your advantage, once you feel that it is giving result, repeat till it becomes your second nature.

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

—Anitha KC

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