Did you know there is an entire field of psychology dedicated primarily to identifying and changing how people talk to themselves? It is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The main idea of Cognitive Therapy is to listen to your “self talk” (what you say to yourself), and figure out whether or not it is true or helpful. If you determine that what you are telling yourself is not true and is undermining your ability to live a happy, healthy life or have good relationships, you can start interrupting your destructive “self talk” and tell yourself the truth instead.
Identifying what you are actually saying to yourself takes focus. A more spiritual term for it is “mindfulness.” It takes practice to recognize and admit what you’ve actually been saying to yourself. Sometimes a friend or other loved one can help with this, because often we actually do verbalize the lies we are telling ourselves. Counseling sessions or a support group might also be helpful.
There may be people in your life who are reinforcing the lies you tell yourself. Perhaps your reading material or entertainment is undermining your efforts to change the way you think and behave. Exposing yourself to people, music, entertainment and literature that will reinforce your efforts to progress is vital to your success. Many of the ancient spiritual disciplines address this idea. The Bible tells us to:
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2
Journaling your “self talk” and writing out what is untrue about it is a good exercise in changing your thought patterns. Also, in your journal, writing out what is true may be useful in reinforcing the truths you need to tell yourself. Write encouraging reminders to yourself on sticky notes and put them on the mirror, the refrigerator and other places you will be sure to see them. Standing in front of a mirror and talking back to your negative voices is another way to strengthen your mind, to capture every harmful thought and replace it with the truths that will enable you to break out of the destructive behavior patterns and become the person you really want to be.
Naturally, some behaviors or disorders are more than anyone can handle alone. We all need outside help from time to time, and telling ourselves the truth is not always the easiest thing to do. Do not let anything you read in this article or hear in the video keep you from seeking professional help if you, your doctor, or those close to you believe you need it.
Read more about changing your self talk!