We all communicate with ourselves in a number of ways, and some of us talk out-loud to ourselves.
Do you find yourself doing this often, and do you ever stop and consider exactly what this internal voice is telling you?
Internal dialogue is one of the really intriguing aspects of our humanity, and it varies wildly from person to person. For some, it comes in the form of a non-stop commentary going on in the background, while for others, they just notice the occasional comment. This internal dialogue can be immensely helpful to us, but it can also get to a point where it causes more harm than good.
Research finds that as many as 80% of us experience negative inner dialogue. Studies were conducted in the 1980s to observe and identify trends in self-talk, and it produced some surprising results. The acknowledgement of being affected by negative self-talk can be a real turning point, as making a conscious decision to adjust the attitude of that talk and the messages we emphasise to ourselves through it. Even though it can seem to be quite damaging at times, it is an important function for our brains, and the rest of our bodies.
Taking the inner dialogue apart makes it much easier to work through. If you are one of those whose self-talk is majorly negative, you may wonder what good this function really does, but there is good reason for it.
Begin to notice the specifics of what your brain is saying to you during these times, and see if you can spot any patterns emerging. It may be helpful to keep a diary of the thoughts that come up in order to spot trends, as these will be the thoughts you are consistently reiterating to yourself. As is often the case, once you figure out what is causing the problem, you can start to take steps to fix it. If, for example, you notice that you are in the habit of lingering on regrets from your past, start thinking about what lessons you can take from this regret to make the future better.
If you are one of those people who read into things deeply, and you take a lot of meaning from people’s choices of words, you might want to apply this to your own self-talk, and consider what the words you use are telling you. Make notes of keywords that come up, and think about what this could say about your inner feelings. Do you notice yourself pointing out the stupidity or lack of loyalty in others, and could this reveal any insecurities about yourself? Remember that when you point a finger, three are pointing right back at you. Overcoming this wall and adjusting to look at your own thoughts and behaviours critically can help you start untangling the inner dialogue and taking steps towards self-improvement.
Another aspect to consider is the tone of what you say to yourself. When you hear that inner voice, is it condescending? Is it encouraging? Is it saddened? What could these attitudes towards yourself indicate about positive changes? If you notice you frequently say things like “why does it always happen to me?”, consider what this could tell you. Do you feel a lack of power in your life? You may be pleasantly surprised at just how helpful these clues can be if you look for them and are willing to make positive changes within yourself. You just need to take the time to pay attention and start solving the puzzles.
About Karen and John
Karen Meager and John McLachlan are the co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training, two of only a handful of NLP Master Trainers in the UK and co-authors to Time Mastery; a number one best-selling book, and Real Leaders for the Real World; an IBA finalist.
Karen is a UKCP registered Psychotherapist (DipNLPt), an INLPTA certified NLP Master Trainer and a Principal Practitioner Member of the Association for Business Psychology. She is an NLPtCA recognised Supervisor and runs a supervision practice for Coaches and Therapists of any modality. She also has training in other psychological models, human development and social psychology which she uses in her training and coaching. John is an INLPTA certified NLP Master Trainer, a Master Practitioner of NLP, a Principal Practitioner Member of the Association for Business Psychology, a Therapist and a Clinical Hypnotherapist. They are regular contributors to the press on a range of subjects relating to NLP, behaviour and the workings of the mind and successfully won the award for NLP in Business in the 2018 NLP Awards.