Do you talk to yourself? I certainly do. I think everyone does it. Sometimes without even realizing it. We continuously carry on an inner dialogue about how we view life, people, and even ourselves.
Perhaps the better question to ask is not do we talk to ourselves but HOW do we talk to ourselves? Sometimes the most destructive relationship we have is with our own selves.
How do you talk to your friends? If you talked to your friends the same way you talk to yourself, you probably wouldn’t have any friends.
We tell ourselves things like ‘I should’, ‘I must’, ‘I have to’, ‘I’ve got to’, ‘Why didn’t I’, ‘I’m no good’, ‘I can’t do it’, ‘I won’t’ and ‘It will never happen’.
Have you ever said to yourself, “I can’t believe I did that, I must be really stupid, or an idiot?”
Over fifteen years ago, we had just closed on our first condo in Mason. My daughter, Stacy couldn’t wait to see it, so I took a card table and a couple of folding chairs so she and the girls could join us for pizza after we finished the closing.
My brother, Wayne stopped by so he could see the new condo or maybe just have an opportunity to see our granddaughters. Jenna was three and Jessica was three months old. I really couldn’t blame him because they were at such a cute age.
After touring the condo, we were eating our pizza. Wayne was sitting in the floor with Jenna. He was yakking on about something and said, “I couldn’t believe I was so stupid.”
Immediately, Jenna piped up, “Uncle Wayne, you said a bad word. We’re not allowed to use that word at our house.”
Very confused, he looked at me and mouthed, “What did I say?” After explaining he had said stupid, Wayne apologized to Jenna for using the “S” word and she went back to her pizza.
Have you ever called yourself stupid, dumb, or an idiot? I am much better than I used to be, but I still struggle with my inner voice reminding me of my faults, failures and my short comings. I tell myself that by now, I should be beyond that negative self-talk. I should be stronger than I am, further along than I am.
Although I have learned to recognize and talk back to my destructive internal voice, sometimes it still gets the best of me.
“I’m wasting my time. I might as well give up. I can’t do anything right. I’m stupid (or ugly, or fat). I just made a fool out of myself. Everyone is laughing at me. Who do I think I am? I’m a miserable mess of a human being. I can’t do it. Why try? I’ll just mess it up again. No one likes me. I’m not good enough.”
Do those words sound familiar? If we want to get healthy and whole we must pay attention to what we say to ourselves and challenge it with the truth. I don’t mean simply replacing negative self-talk with positive words of affirmation such as:
“I’m so wonderful. I can do anything. I can do no wrong. I deserve to be _________(fill in the blank) ___________.
Our body hears everything we say and will pick up negative images from the way we talk externally or internally.
When I was still working, I found practicing difficult conversations in my mind helped me to effectively communicate about a tough issue, without anger.
I have heard professional athletes, before a big game, often mutter words under their breath to calm themselves down or pump themselves up.
I remember seeing my girls playing with their dolls and stuffed animals, playing pretend and talking out loud to make sense of their world.
Lately, I find myself having a little internal daily chat about my blessings and life’s confusions. I’m not sure it helps me solve anything, but it seems to clarify my thoughts and keep me focused on the important things in my life.
Recently, I was having a little personal chat about a sweatshirt I had purchased last summer. I was certain I had put it in my chest of drawers. As I was walking through the apartment saying to no one, “If I were a brand new Oak Ridge Boys sweatshirt, where would I be?” Then thirty minutes later: “Aha! Here you are. Right where I put you. In the coat closet.”
Tom laughs at me, asking, “Who in the world are you talking to?”
I respond, “Hey, talking to yourself is a sign of genius. I read somewhere Albert Einstein was constantly talking to himself.”
Well, I’m surely not a genius, but maybe talking to myself is a sign of sanity helping me focus and keep things in perspective.
However, I guess it can also make me look like I’m crazy. So far, I have been able to confine my external self-talking to the privacy of my own home, but if you see me driving or walking down the street yakking on and on to nobody, I guess I’m just conversing with the voices in my head or being my own therapist.
Ending on a Positive Note: If talking to yourself helps you make sense of your life, go for it. Who knows, you may be talking to the person who knows you the best.