How to overcome negative self talk

Learn Your Language? 
You wanted to skip this one – right? You already have a language…duh!
I’m sure you have guessed I am not talking about spoken language. I am speaking about your personal language. The kind that runs in the background all of the time.

All day long, you have an internal dialog running in your mind. It’s something you developed at a very early age. And because it runs all day, you are most likely completely oblivious to it. It’s like billboards along the roadside. We don’t notice them very often. For example, in my own head lives a narrator. She details every part of my life. It sounds like…

“You have to be out of the house by 7:50am to be on time, this milk looks funny, yep, it’s bad, did I wear my black skirt last week or this week?, I wonder how much I could save if I started couponing, I miss the gym, do I want a bagel or a waffle?, I wish I didn’t have to go to work, my couch is so comfy, I need to lose 5 pounds, I need to reorganize the cabinet, Ugh, her profile picture is hideous, when can I upgrade my phone?…”

Two things

1) I am not crazy

2) Your narrator is busy all the time

Inner dialog is brought to you by your conscious  and unconscious mind. Your conscious is the one you hear most of the day, and the most famous. Your unconscious is responsible for keeping you alive and out of danger all day long. It tells your body to breathe, blink, go to the bathroom. The important stuff.  

Since we can all agree that bodily functions are important, let’s move onto the other things your unconscious mind does. Your unconscious narrator dictates to you, what your worth is. That’s right. Your worth. Every time your narrator speaks, you either take in positive or you take in negative. Easy choice right? We all choose Positive, and move on. Not quite.

The value that you operate within is predetermined. By what? By your past.  

Well that’s depressing. I know, it would seem hopeless. But would I come to you with nothing? Nope.

Let’s discuss how your narrator got started. Somewhere in your youth, you started taking in environmental clues and messages. These little tidbits of data began to come together in your mind, and formed your dialog. Here’s the scary part. That dialog was established, and cemented by the ripe old age of 7. Still looking bleak? Stay with me.

Since I am confident that you do not own a Delorean / Time Machine, there appears to be no way to alter your past. But, looks are sometimes deceiving. Our unconscious mind is an amazing thing. It has been compared to the bottom half of a massive iceberg, which provides a great visual. However, unlike the old iceberg, the unconscious is pliable. Meaning, just because it has been spouting off one message for years, doesn’t mean it cannot be changed.  

 Let’s imagine a scenario. Imagine Beethoven (the musician) at the age of 3. Let’s imagine he strides over to a piano, and plays a few notes. Now, picture his mother standing before him, with a disapproving look scolding him for touching the piano. Let’s say that scenario is repeated fairly often, as 3 year olds tend to try the same thing a few times. At age 4 he tries to play the piano again, this time for a teacher. She tells him to stop, because he’s not a good pianist. The same scenario happens for the next few years. Each time our Beethoven touches the piano, he is met with disapproval or criticism. Teachers, Parents, Friends, etc. all tell him to stop. They all tell him he has no talent. By the time our Beethoven reaches age 7, it is pretty probable that he will have no desire to play the piano. It is also, probable that we would be missing out on some of the most beautiful music ever composed.  

We all know in reality, by the age of 7, Beethoven had preformed his first concert. He went on to be one of the most valued musicians in the world, overcoming physical disability to master his musical craft. The reason Beethoven could do all of that was due to his unconscious mind. From an early age, his father recognized his abilities and offered him every opportunity to practice. The public, who heard his music, celebrated his genius. His inner dialog was trained from an early age to recognize his talent. He was commended by all regarding his talents, which would reinforce the dialog. His outside world, no doubt matched his inner picture.

Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820 Christina…why are we talking about Beethoven?

 Let me explain. Though you may not be the musical prodigy that Beethoven was, you are a walking gift. You have talent, and greatness residing inside of you. The problem for many of us is our inner dialog doesn’t tell you that. Your narrator is still repeating the same dialog it learned in your formative years.  Once you have created a narrative, your mind puts it on repeat. Constant replay. So if I am 37, and this message has been playing since I was 7, that is a 30 year replay. 3-0! Imagine hearing the same message for that long. On your conscious level, you would go crazy I’m sure. But the beauty (and the curse) of the unconscious, is that it operates in the background. You very rarely notice it. Unless, you train yourself.

These repeated messages, can absolutely be reprogramed. The key to reprogramming is believability, consistency, and awareness. In order to undo 30 years of programming, I have to start a pretty repetitive message consciously. There are several methods for this, that you can research but I am going to focus on visual and auditory cues.  

For me, I started with attributes I wanted to see in my life.  

• Confidence

• Happiness

• Satisfaction

These three were on top of my list of needs. I needed to feel these emotions in my core, so I could believe them. As humans, we are predominantly reliant on our visual settings to direct our thought. Red light means stop, green light means go, etc. So to set up my new message, I had to train my brain to see visual cues that matched these needs.

I began with post it notes. 

 Yep, the little yellow squares. On every surface I could think of, I posted a note with these words, or a statement / mantra containing these words (I am confident, I am happy, etc.). Trust me when I say, you could not navigate my main living areas without encountering a note.

Creating a visual cue is important, but it is only part of the solution. Eventually, notes, and signs become like the billboard signs we talks about. They just blur in the background if you are not careful. The trick to using a post it note as a cue, is to train yourself that you must look at the note and make the statement every time you see it. Every. Time.

Yes, it can get awkward. Yes, there will be days you don’t want too, or don’t feel it. However, it is important to do this consistently in order to bring awareness to your inner narrator.

If I am consistently reading the phrase “I am confident”, and my default narration is that “I am not good enough” I create a conflict. My inner picture and outer picture do not match. Here is the awesome thing about your brain. It does not do conflict when it comes to unconscious matching. The unconscious mind’s goal is to prove that the narration is true. When I hear that I am not good enough, my mind seeks out examples of my failures. That creates a match. However, when my brain says I am not good enough, but my environment is constantly saying I am confident the inner narration is no longer valid. It doesn’t match what I see. I then have the ability to change the narration.  

As time goes by, I will notice when I my narration has a conflict. I will be aware and will be able to change the dialog in real time. For instance: Should I spill coffee on my shirt, I might immediately say “You’re so clumsy” However, if I have been surrounding myself with a positive environment that says I am graceful, I will notice the conflict and be able to correct the statement (No, I’m not clumsy, I have simply had an accident and I am able to recover gracefully)

The key to choosing your new narrative is in the believability. Not necessarily that you believe it to be true right now, but that you believe it can be true. You will be training your brain in the present tense. Meaning, right here and now. The brain is a little too smart for post dated mantras. If you say “I will be rich” the brain will say “sure you will, someday, but today you are a penniless artist”. The brain has to take in what you are saying as something true. If I say “I am 6 foot tall”, my brain will immediately recall that I am 5’4”, and reject the statement because it is not true, and it is not probable.

Your homework is to learn your new language and take the first steps in creating the language you want to hear. To do that you will need to write down 3 – 5 things you want to hear about yourself. Do you want to be more confident, more relaxed, do you want to make more friends? List them. Once you have your list, you will need to create your statement / mantra notes. These notes need to be placed in at least three areas you frequent, and read aloud (a whisper counts if you are at work) every time you see them. Make sure you are using present tense, believable statements. Additionally, every time you notice a conflicting statement (your dialog said something that didn’t match your note) I want you to rephrase the narration with a correction.

Narration = I am too shy to say hello to this person

Correction = I am shy, but I am confident enough to say hello to this person  

As they say in the movies: Fin

(Well, until next time)