Talk to Yourself as Lovers Do
What do you tell yourself about who you are inside your head? Do you whisper the words of a lover to their beloved? Or are your words harsh and critical? Do the words land gently as a soft blanket? Or are they harshly thrown down and prickly, leaving you feeling distraught?
Much of our internal dialogue is negative. Up to 75% of it according to Shad Helmstetter, author of “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself”. And science has revealed to us that our brain can work against our best interests. The left cerebral hemisphere literally fabricates stories or perspectives about ourselves, often negative, that do not match reality.
We Are What We Say We Are
Throughout my own personal growth journey, I have realized that the voices in my head are almost never my own. They are voices echoing from my childhood, past schoolrooms, churches, and even past relationships.
In my work as a Life Coach, I have heard people tell me emphatically how they are lazy, stupid, not attractive, not good at this or that… and in every case it was a lie.
The truth is that we are all doing our best. The truth is that we are all growing and learning. And the truth is that most of us do lots of things really well!
Neurosciences tells us that the brain believes what you tell it most. It doesn’t know the difference between truth and fantasy. So if we grow up hearing the lies that we are not good enough, not thin or pretty or strong enough, that we should work harder, be smarter, be anything but what we are, we eventually take it as gospel.
Most of us have not had someone telling us all the things they love about us, frequently enough. So it is no wonder that most of us have developed an unconscious habit of negative self-talk. We repeat what we know.
Breaking that habit can take some time, and I think the journey of self-love, or self-respect, is worth it. So how to get started?
Building Positive Self-talk
- Take some quiet moments and write down as many positive things about yourself as you can.
- If you get stuck, ask a few people in your life that love you to tell you the qualities they appreciate in you. I guarantee that you will be astounded at how people in your life see you.
- Come back to this list, whenever you notice yourself engaging in negative self-talk and practice affirming qualities about yourself that are positive.
- Add to this list as you continue to learn and notice new things about what makes you wonderful.
Over the years, whenever I have received an appreciative card or letter from a friend, client or family member, I save it. I choose to accept their version of me. At any one time I have a couple of them sitting on my desk so that proof of my ‘awesomeness’ is within an arm’s reach. Yes, I said it, “awesomeness’. And I am taking it in right now, as I am writing these words. It is an on-going practice to treat ourselves with care…
With intention, you will begin to increase your awareness of the self-critical voice. When you notice it:
- Pause and take a deep breath.
- Ask yourself how you would talk to a dear friend in the same situation. Or how you would talk to a child in your same shoes?
- Reframe your criticism to a lover’s statement.
Try adding these basic phrases into your repertoire:
- “I am getting (a little) better every day”
- “I am doing my best”
- “I am making progress!”
- “I am enough, as I am”
Make a conscious choice to believe it. And then practice until you can feel the truth of it in your gut. Consider what phrases make you feel good and bring you joy. And before you go to sleep at night, whisper sweet words of appreciation to yourself. Talk to yourself as lover’s do.
About the author: Susan Chettle Rutherford has served on the HAI workshop team since 2009. She is also a writer and Certified Professional Co-Active Coach who is absolutely passionate about helping people manifest lives of joy, love, abundance and fulfillment. Since she can remember, Susan has been committed to personal growth, and her biggest joy is being a facilitator of transformation in others. These days Susan is also on the Marketing team for HAI Global, helping them spread their message of love around the world.
About the editor: Kate Gillispie is the Marketing Director for the Human Awareness Institute and co-host of May I Have This Dance, a podcast about love, intimacy, and sexuality. Find the podcast by searching for ‘May I Have This Dance‘ on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever else you find your podcasts. You can also join our active community on Facebook.