How do you talk to … yourself?

Photo: Pixabay

Imagine the following scenario:
A good friend tells you about an important presentation he had to give – and that everything went wrong. He got nervous in the middle of the presentation, got stuck and got totally bogged down. All eyes of the stakeholders in the room on him didn’t make it any easier. In the end, he could only present half of what he actually wanted to deliver. Somehow he got through it – but now he is devastated.

What would be your first reaction?
How would you feel towards your friend?
What would you say?

Now imagine the same scenario – only this time it is you who has given the presentation.
What would be your first reaction?
What would you think about yourself?
How would you feel?
And most importantly – what would your inner dialogue sound like, i.e. what would you say to yourself?
How does the dialogue with your friend differ from the dialogue with yourself?
And why?

Be a good friend to yourself
It is amazing how hard and ungracious we are sometimes with ourselves. Yet how we treat ourselves is of considerable importance for our happiness and contentment. If we don’t appreciate ourselves, we will constantly look for appreciation outside of us – and thus present our fellow human beings with an unsolvable task.
And self-esteem is not egoism. It is the simple, honest compassion that we show to every person we care about.
How much do you care about yourself?

This compassion has the same effect on us when we are able to extend it to ourselves. Having self-compassion does not mean finding everything you do or don’t do great. Self-compassion means seeing yourself in a benevolent and forgiving light – and realising that it is simply human to make mistakes. Only non-judgmental (and non-justifying) acceptance of what happened puts us in a state that allows us to learn from what happened and confidently make plans for next time.

The inner dialogue – how you talk to yourself – contributes significantly to your mood and decides whether you generate a confident-appreciative attitude that enables development and belief in yourself, or whether you revolve around the problem and thus block your abilities and development possibilities.

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world”.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Language is a powerful lever. There is a lot of scientific evidence that our language influences how we see and think about the world. It influences our attitude. You may have heard that in some languages there are multiple words for snow or in others there are no numbers or no words for right and left.
When language emerged, perception was put into words. In cultures where snow plays a central role, there are several words for it. Perception shaped language. Now that language exists, it shapes perception and our paradigms.
So how we put the world into words influences our perception, our thoughts, our emotions and our attitude.
(If you are interested in this topic, you can find a link to an interesting TED Talk at the end of this article about how language influences our thinking and our view of the world).
If you want to generate a more positive attitude, start by changing your language. It’s not about talking something up. It is about shifting the focus of your perception to what is beneficial and productive – and finding words for it.

Why don’t you try to pay attention to the inner dialogue you have today.
You might be surprised how much chatter is going on in your head. It is proven that we produce 60,000-70,000 thoughts per day – most of them unconscious!
So it’s high time to get to the bottom of our inner chatterbox and see what language it uses.
Are the words and phrases more uplifting or frustrating?
Think about what you would say to a good friend in the same situation.
And then start being that good friend to yourself.
And change the dictionary of your inner chatterbox.
It may feel awkward at first – but hey, practice makes perfect ­čÖé

Talk positive to yourself,
Birgit

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