You have to learn to keep yourself company before you can truly keep someone else company.
We all talk to ourselves. We start it about age two, talking out loud. We have all seen the little toddler walking around jabbering. Around age four to six we start talking in our heads. We begin to understand it isn’t socially acceptable to talk out loud so we begin to do it in our heads.
Give me a moment to give you some info about geeky information. Self-talk is called an “Executive Function”. Early in childhood we begin the process of mastering Executive Functions. Dr.Russell Barkley defines executive functions as “actions we perform to ourselves and direct at ourselves so as to accomplish self-control, goal-directed behavior, and the maximization of future outcomes.” How well someone learns to regulate, control and develop the rhythm of these areas working together is a significant part of how well someone functions in life. These start early in life but they can change and still grow throughout life. Okay now what does this mean…
About ten years ago I got the revelation that I could talk to myself however I wanted. Most of the time what it sounds like in my head was negative thoughts and conversation. It sounded a lot like the negative people or situations of my past. All the shoulds, woulds and criticism of past situations and people in my life. Most of my creative energy was spent criticizing myself or others in my head. Outwardly I looked kind and respectful but in my head – my self-talk – it sounded horrible. As I looked at my self-talk I realized that I could change how I loved, affirmed and talked with myself. I did not have to push, condemn or demean. This began a process where my inner life and thoughts became positive, encouraging and helpful. Just as I wanted to be in my outward life. You have to learn to keep yourself company before you can truly keep someone else company.
Why is this important. How negative you are affects how you make decisions, how you interact with others and the creative process that flows out of you. I don’t know if anyone can create an exhaustive list that works for everyone but, here are some things that have worked for me:
- This seems so simple but – stop regularly and examine how negative you sound in your thoughts. It has become so automatic you don’t recognize it. You have to increase your awareness first. After you become more aware you can look for ways to change the inner dialogue.
- Stop chewing yourself out. Encourage yourself like you would a two year old. You would not criticize or hurt a two year old. You would nurture them and encourage them. Be gentle with yourself. You are trying to change a pattern.
- What does scripture say about you. I found that I needed to find a different measuring stick. I measured myself from the past, or my perception of the past. So when I tried to replace the negative thoughts I would say “yeah but….” I needed to find something larger and stronger than me. Start with this list about Who does God say that I am and then develop others.
- Look at a Father’s Love Letter. This is another post that I created. Meditate on the truth of who you are to God.
This seems so small but it is so big. You can change the way you see yourself and talk to yourself. Remember you get to talk with yourself any way you want – so why would you want the drain of the negative.
You can change the way that you see yourself. We have a hard time believing that statement because we see so few people that actually change. Change is possible. How you interact with self-talk can be a huge step forward.
What ways have you found to change the negative self-talk? Have your struggled with this in your life?