"Don’t talk to me like that!"
I frequently ask my clients if they would talk to another human being the way they talk to themselves inside their own heads. Many of us are very hard on ourselves – we set very high standards and expectations and do not “spare the rod” if we don’t reach them.
The next question is – “Is this damning self talk helpful?” and I’ve yet to have anyone answer “Yes” to that question, probably because the talk usually leads to this thought (or something very similar):
"I'm not good enough"
So how can we change the way we speak to ourselves? The first step is to become aware of what we are saying to ourselves, as it has probably become habitual. If it helps, write down some of your thoughts and note the common ones. Just by becoming aware, you can start to make changes. Ask yourself some of these questions:
- Is that my voice? It may be a strict adult from your childhood that is still alive and well in your head.
- How would my partner/a friend/my child feel if I spoke to them in that way.
- What triggers these negative thoughts – a person, a situation?
- Do I allow myself to make mistakes? (None of us can ever be perfect and failure is the way we learn – think how many times a child falls over as they learn to walk!)
- What would be a more helpful way of thinking?
The last is the key question. Once you have identified your common themes and what triggers the associated self talk then write down a more helpful way of thinking. As you catch yourself thinking in the old way, switch to the new positive thought. If you do this often enough you will develop a new way of thinking.
As a simple example, if you call yourself “stupid” or worse whenever you get something wrong (as I once did) then change your negative view of yourself to curiosity “Now I wonder why I did that?” and start learning from those mistakes. Or, if you are constantly telling yourself “I can’t do …” how about changing that to “If I wanted to do… how would I learn, what would be the first step and who could help me?”
Hypnotherapists often give clients tasks like these for homework and then have them practise the new way of talking to themselves in a relaxed hypnosis session.
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About Judith Hanson
I am a clinical hypnotherapist, specialising in Anxiety, Fears and Confidence. My passion is to help my clients realise that there is hope - they can take control and manage their own thoughts and thus how they feel and behave. I develop a tailored, collaborative programme to build each client's self belief and motivation.