Effective Ways to Talk to Yourself

How Do You Talk to Yourself?

Do you have a running commentary in your head?  I do.  I bet a lot of us do.  We wonder about things, we enjoy some things, we are critical of other things.

The quality and the tone of all of this commentary can affect our moods, the direction that we take in life, and the direction of our decisions.

This direction can be positive, or it can be unpleasant.  If pleasant we will bounce up, if negative we will be drawn down.

Lets start with some examples of negative thinking:

A woman, frowning, looking sad

An Unhappy WomanLets start with positive versus negative.  What is negative?

Criticism of ourselves

Criticism of others,

Judgments, especially negative

Depressed, pessimistic thinking

Should we always be positive?  Never complain or never get things of our chests?

Answer: No, but choose when and where.  who to complain to.  What to do.  Is there something that can be done ? (see section on communication: Talk Section) If there is something that you can do,  Do it.

If there is nothing that you can do, then talk out your frustration, write out your frustration (see section on Walk) Then let it go.  Accept the fact that there is nothing that you can do, and then take care of your self.

The case of sad thoughts.

Sometimes we are sad because of ongoing problems, because of family issues, problem relationships, financial difficulties, or loss.  When we are told repeatedly, or when we tell ourselves repeatedly to cheer up, don’t we just feel worse?  We can argue with ourselves or with others for a long time, just feeling worse and worse.

What to do?

First, start with the fact that it is real.  It is there:  the negative, the imperfect, the ongoing problems are part of our lives.

Start with acceptance.  Imperfection is part of life.  The garbage doesn’t always get picked up on time, sometimes the can gets tipped over.  Sometimes the car doesn’t start, sometimes the plumbing doesn’t work.

Breathing meditation (See Simple Steps to Relaxation)  helps with this acceptance, because of the habit of letting thoughts come and go.

There is a Buddhist saying which fits these occasions.  When we  think “why did this happen to me? ” A Buddhist sage once answered, “Why shouldn’t it happen to you?” How do you become immune to sad or to difficult or painful problems?  These come and go as well as do the good times.  Life has both, the good times and the sad and the difficult times.

So to accept the painful and to move on, allow the negative, then move on to something more positive.

Woman proud of herself.

Woman proud of herself.

 The Case of Self criticism

It helps to recognize that name calling is negative.  If we do this to other people it is a negative thing, it should lead to an apology and a serious attempts to change the behavior.

It is just as negative and harmful to do this to ourselves.  This is a habit that we can change, and that we need to change.  We should perhaps, apologize to ourselves, make amends, and make a serious attempt to change that behavior.

How do we experience the negative in our lives without giving in to long term negative thinking?

This involves two actions:  Self  care and self respect.  Both are important. 

Self respect:  We are important.  We are the ones who we will be with for the rest of our lives.  We want good things to happen to us, we need to treat ourselves like we deserve those good things.

Self care:  When we were children, we needed, and in most cases we received, some good nurturing.  As we got older there was more of requirement to give nurturing to others.  Some of us then neglected our own need to be nurtured. We can learn to give ourselves the nurturing that we need.

What do you mean by nurturing ourselves?

First of all, we can listen to ourselves. (See 10 Habits of Really Good Listeners.) We can listen with respect.  Just respectful listening is nurturing.  This is listening with understanding and acceptance.  Listen you yourself, and then provide affection and comfort.  Do something kind to yourself to help you feel better.  Let yourself know that you are loved, that you deserve care.  Deliver on that promise as soon as possible. See 5 Ways To Take Care Of Your Emotions for more tips on self care and self nurturing.

Love is spelled “T-I-M-E.” Give yourself the gift of time and attention and care.