How to Fix Your Internal Dialogue
~How do you talk to yourself? ~I mean what sorts of things do you whisper in your own mind regarding how you look, sound, think, or act? ~What sort of internal dialogue or communication do you have with…. You?
For years, mine was a shitty one.
I was constantly putting myself down. Whether it be about my looks, my abilities, even my relationships, it seemed that my worst enemy had actually become myself. I’d buy a really cute necklace, put it on for the world to see, then almost instantly, tell myself that it looked bad, that people would think I was showing off or trying to be fashionable… spiraling out of control, this became a constant battle between myself and my own esteem.
The craziest part was actually how unaware of this negative inner dialogue I had become. Bad habits tend to place themselves in our reality; they manifest day-to-day for so long and with such force that one morning we wake up with terrible thoughts about ourselves from….. We aren’t so sure.
I couldn’t pinpoint when it had started or even how often it happened, but I began to become more aware of the way I spoke to myself about myself.
I’d meet someone on the streets and my brain would tell me that they hated me or that they were judging me, that I most likely looked ugly or should stop being so goofy.
I’m not kidding when I say that I’ve never been in a fight with anyone other than myself, but this one has been a constant battle.
I started to get really tired of it: being my own worst enemy and critic. So, I decided to make a change. I had to change myself to better myself. I had to change the opinion I carried about me for me and by me.
Sort of weird, right? Well, not really.
It makes sense. We constantly live with ourselves, look at ourselves, compare everything to ourselves. We see the world through our own lens and believe that no one else struggles, falls down, falls again, or has doubts. We beat ourselves up because we can’t see anything other than our own path, our own lives, etc.
So, how did I change this?
Like everything else that I’ve ever shared on my blog, first, you have to accept it.
You have to accept that you’re being a bully. You have to acknowledge that you’re speaking poorly to yourself AND you have to acknowledge and accept that you deserve to be treated better than that. I think that is the root of it all: “You have to seriously work on believing that you deserve better.”
After acceptance can really come change and growth. How do you change that chatter? Let me share my top tips to help you become well…. kinder to you and fix that negative self-talk that can alter the way we feel about ourselves day in and day out.
Tip #1: Track and Visualize your Inner Conversation
This was my sticky note experiment! I took a Saturday that my roomie and I hung more around the house and relaxed our weekend away, which is one of the best ways to spend a weekend in my humble opinion:) And throughout the day, I monitored myself and the talk inside my head.
Every time I’d think a negative thought about myself, BOOM, on the wall it went! But, the same for the opposite. I remember I got a package in the mail of some H&M clothing I’d ordered that day. I tried on one of the dresses and felt like a million bucks. That was a kind thought and dialogue I had within myself! That also got added to the wall.
But, holy cannoli… the ratio was VERY uneven.
I would guess I had 4:1 bad:good thoughts within my own head about myself. IN ONE DAY! Think how over time that ratio adds up! It seemed that even over stupid things: spilling my water, forgetting to take out the trash, working on an Instagram post and messing up the caption, I just would not cut myself some slack! This is a perfectionist character trait of mine and one I believe many of us have.
“When we do good things it barely registers in our brain, but when we ‘mess-up’ even over the tiniest little thing, we are the worst… or so we tell ourselves.”
The day progressed and I collected more and more negative conversation sticky-notes on my wall. By the end of the night, my hand was cramping. What the heck! Why was I beating myself up so much and so often!
My tip for you to begin the healing process is being aware. You have to have a sort of smack in the face regarding your bad habit, how often it happens, and how silly/out of control it can could be now! Personally, I started to realize how poorly I spoke to myself and how freaking often! Try this at home! Take a day, a week, heck even an hour and track your own dialogue.
See how you speak to you. What sorts of negative thoughts you tell yourself and how frequently. This helped me a great deal to come to the realization of how bad my inner dialogue had gotten, but also how intensely I now was ready to change it!
Tip #2: Change The Subject
What do we do when we find ourselves in a situation or conversation that’s not serving us or makes us uncomfortable in some sort of way? We change the conversation.
I’ve been at parties, dinners, dates, or work where someone will try to talk about politics, gossip, etc. basically things I wasn’t comfortable speaking about or didn’t feel would serve my best interest… I changed the topic of conversation.
Whenever you catch yourself saying something negative about your hair that day or your ability to get that job, change the subject… internally. Sounds super weird, right?
The first time I started to use this trick, it felt super weird. I was on the subway going to work and I saw my reflection in the window. I thought, “I look so puffy today. Why does my face look like that? I have like chipmunk cheeks…….I wonder when the new Aladdin movie comes out?”
Just like that. I grabbed my phone, looked up movie tickets and moved my mind on.
I didn’t allow myself to wallow in that moment of negative self-talk, instead, I changed the conversation on the subway in my own noggin.
It’s sort of the psychology of distractions. Whenever you’re trying to break a bad habit, you have to actually break the habit. Habitual mind patterns are how we work! So, if you normally beat yourself up over how poorly you do your job, tomorrow when you go to work, the moment you think a negative belief about your ability to kickass that day, alter your mind pattern.
-Watch the news
-Talk to a coworker
-Listen to music
-Write down how you are feeling and why
-Heck, even go and grab a drink from the water fountain
Alter your habitual internal dialogue by cutting it off the moment you recognize. Interrupt yourself! Be rude, be harsh! You think something bad, stop it! And over time your mind pattern will completely alter because you’re breaking that cycle of negative self-talk and negative self-belief.
Tip #3: Alter your environment
Bad habits are not only habitual but also based on our environment.
For example, people trying to lose weight are told to clear our their cabinets of all junk foods if they want to be serious about getting healthier.
Because your environment directly correlates to your daily actions and thoughts.
I realized this one day when I went to reach for my water bottle on the left corner of my desk… and grabbed air. For two seconds I truly felt lost. Where did it go? I always put my water on the left corner of my desk? Did I forget it somewhere? Did it fly away?
I realized that without even looking, without even checking, I expected it to be there because it always was! This is the same with internal dialogue… let me explain:) If you always look at fitness models on social media and it makes you feel bad about yourself, stop looking at it.
If you always walk past this specific mirror in the hallway and subconsciously body check your hips, waist, stomach, whatever, take a new route out of your office.
If you walk to the gym past big mansions that make you feel self-conscious about your financial status or profession, take the back-roads.
Stop surrounding yourself with an environment ready to feed on that internal shitty self-talk because, like me and my water bottle we work in patterns of convenience and comfort, change has to be uncomfortable.
What you look at, walk past, speak too, read about every single day has a serious impact on your internal conversation. The information you take in aids in the way you view yourself.
Change your environment. Notice when do I speak poorly to myself the most. If it’s at the gym because you’re comparing yourself to others or if it's out on a Friday night because you envy the girl with ‘perfect’ hair, I’m not saying you can never be in these situations, but recognize them! And try your hardest to maybe spend less time in them or even less time in them alone. When you alter your environment, change can be welcomed in because right now you (and I was) stuck in a routine of negative environmental factors leading to negative thoughts in my own brain.
Tip #4: Be your own hype-man
Finally, be your own cheerleader. I’m so serious and this is so cheesy, but trust me:
‘No one is going to cheer you on like you are capable of and should be doing.’
You’ve got to start filling that internal dialogue space with positive affirmations, beliefs, cheers, and let’s be honest ‘hype-man quality’ talk. No one sits in silence during the day, so don’t expect to do so either in your own head.
Once you begin to cut out the negative talk you have to fill that void.
Speak kindly to yourself throughout the day.
Cut yourself some slack for once.
LAUGH at yourself! This one is huge! I began to really heal my internal dialogue by being goofy honestly! If I dropped something or had an awkward conversation with someone, instead of saying, “Emily, you’re the worst,” I said, “Em, you’re so goofy:)” but in a positive way! I started to like myself for this funny, silly moments that I used to view as ‘fails.’
You have to begin to fall in love with yourself.
Did you see what I did their above? I began to call myself nicknames. I began to show myself the empathy, sympathy, support, and unwavering care that I show others!
CRAZY how we tend to give all of our love away.
Why? I think a huge part is that society tells us that caring about ourselves is selfish. That being in love with the person we are is vain. That being confident is being bitchy. Expecting great things for ourselves is greedy. I call bullshit.
You should love yourself. You should care for yourself. You should speak kindly to yourself.
You will change that inner dialogue because bullying yourself in your own head is easily one of the most subconscious and aggressive forms of self-hatred and you, my sweet soul, deserve ABSOLUTELY none of that…. Especially from yourself.