Self-Therapy For People Who ENJOY Learning About Themselves
TALKING TO YOURSELF
In old movies, if you wanted to show that someone was really “crazy” you’d show them talking to themselves. Even if they were only doing it mentally, in their own heads, it was supposed to be a sure sign of mental illness. What’s really bizarre about this is that the act of talking to ourselves is actually a sign that we are self-aware and that we seek insight into our own actions. It’s really a hallmark of being human and proof that we are a higher species.
WE ALL DO IT
We all have mental conversations with ourselves. Self-talk is so constant that meditation groups, relaxation tapes, and self-help books focus on just trying to get us to be able to stop all the self-talk for a few seconds of deep relaxation.
But in a sense, we CAN measure our degree of psychological pain by checking out our self-talk. It’s not whether we do it, it’s WHAT we say to ourselves that matters!
WHAT DO WE SAY TO OURSELVES?
It would be wonderful if we only said well-thought-out, self-protective, self-loving things to ourselves. It would be wonderful, but it’s just not true for most of us most of the time a lot of self-talk is critical.
It’s as if our private mental world is occupied by a watchdog who is always anxious to point out our flaws. To a degree, this is self-protective. It “resets our automatic pilot” when it is veering too far off course. But one of the quickest and best ways to improve our lives is through changing negative self-talk.
How do we go about it?
HOW TO CHANGE YOUR SELF-TALK
1. Become Aware Of It.
2. Label Its Source.
3. Change It.
4. Notice How Different You Feel.
5. Decide Whether To Change It Further.
6. Don’t Think You Are Finished.
BECOMING AWARE OF YOUR SELF-TALK
Journaling seems to be the most popular technique for becoming aware of your self-talk at the moment.
But whether you use a real journal or just try to notice what you say to yourself without a journal,
LOOK FOR DISAGREEMENTS WITHIN YOURSELF!
Sometimes these disagreements will be almost “auditory.” One side will say something and the other side will say “That’s not true,” etc. But ANY self-talk that makes you feel bad contains a “disagreement.” (The disagreement is between the self-talk and the part of us that doesn’t want to feel bad!).
LABELING ITS SOURCE
All self-talk that makes you feel bad originally came from someone else! Learn to identify WHO SAID THIS ABOUT YOU in your past. And mentally “label” the negative self-talk with the name of the person you got it from.
Since parents have so much influence in our lives, much self-talk (both positive and negative) comes from them. It will help you a lot to use your parent’s first name – “Herman” or “Brenda” or whatever – instead of using “Dad” or “Mom” when you label these internal messages. (This will remind you that they were only “people” who were capable of making mistakes, not “gods” who could never be wrong.)
Simply change the thing you say to yourself into something that you’d like to believe that makes you feel better.
NOTICING HOW DIFFERENT YOU FEEL
Try the new self-talk for a short time (anything from a few hours to a couple days or so). See how it feels, and learn how much of the new, kinder statement you actually believe.
DECIDING WHETHER TO CHANGE IT FURTHER
Make a NEW DECISION about what you will say to yourself about this in the future.
Make it self-caring, self-protective, and something you honestly believe to be true.
KNOWING YOU ARE NOT FINISHED!
You will be growing and changing all of your life. Updating your self-talk will always be necessary.
Even when you finally finish making new decisions about the really negative stuff there will still be the need to update self-talk based on the changes that life brings your way.
BECOME YOUR OWN THERAPIST
Good therapy also aims at well-thought-out, self-loving, and self-protective new decisions. When you follow the steps in this topic you are essentially becoming your own therapist. Do as much as you can on your own, but give your therapist a call if you run into painful things you can’t change on your own.