“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words and your words become your actions”. How are you talking to yourself?
Words by YK Daily's resident life coach Amira Mansour @the_communicationexpert
As humans we are hardwired to think negatively, and once upon a time we needed this wiring in our brains in order to survive. Being able to scan an environment for threats used to be an integral part of staying alive, but in today’s world, we probably don’t need this in the same way. However, your brain is still designed to keep you safe and operate in the zone that feels familiar.
When you were born, your brain was like a brand new computer. There was nothing stored on it. Which is actually great news. It was a clean slate where you could create whatever you wanted to. However, somewhere along the way, usually at a young age, you started to store files that weren’t actually true, and now you believe them as though they are the truth. These files would have come from the things people said, the things you saw and the experiences you’ve had.
Over time you may have applied a specific incident (and the feelings associated with it,) to other situations, as though it was the global truth. Let me give you an example. If you’ve experienced someone in your life leaving, or not being there in the way you wanted, you may have created the belief that other people are not reliable. As a result, your global truth could sound like, “I can only ever rely upon myself”. Does this sounds familiar?
Your beliefs guide your values, behaviours and actions, however, if some of your beliefs are unrealistic they’re likely to impact you in a negative way. When you believe you ‘have’ to do something, or ‘should’ do something because you think it’s the right thing to do, not only is it going to feel like a burden or a chore, but it’s also a pretty good indicator of an unrealistic belief. Think for example, if someone makes a commitment, your belief may be that they shouldn’t change the commitment. Is this a realistic belief? Probably not. It’s likely to leave you constantly disappointed when people can’t meet your own expectation. A more realistic belief would be, “I expect plans to change, and allow for flexibility”.
It’s important to start taking notice of what your beliefs are, and the ones that are holding you back. It can be hard to be honest with yourself because you believe it’s a good belief to have. So take it back to the question, "is it realistic"? Would it help to trade it in for a more empowering belief? As you create new beliefs, you’ll find your behaviours and actions change as a result, and will help you respond, rather than react. Your brain is a muscle, therefore you’ve got to keep repeating these new behaviours if you want to upgrade from your previous limiting belief.
In addition to the beliefs you hold, look at the conversation you’re having with yourself. Do you ever say that it’s just your luck you can’t find a partner who thinks like you? Or that things are always against you? Maybe you say that all the good things happen to everyone except you. The way your life looks is a direct result of the stories you tell yourself, and the beliefs you hold. Your stories hold power and the more you tell yourself these stories, the more you’ll hold onto them as though they’re the truth, and nothing but the truth.
Think back to a social setting where you’ve felt awkward, you weren’t sure what to say, or you were worried that you’d say something totally stupid? Do you remember how you felt? Maybe you had knots in your stomach and sweaty. When you recall the memory you may find your body physically recoiling and feeling embarrassed all over again. What’s interesting is even though you’re no longer in the situation, your mind and body doesn’t actually know the difference. So you may find yourself reacting as though it’s happening in real time. Imagine this in reverse. Imagine you swapped the negative narrative playing on repeat in your mind, for a story that was so positive it has an empowering feeling. Imagine visualising people listening and engaging in your conversation. How much better does that feel?
Sometimes you’ve been telling yourself the same story for so long that you’re not even aware of what it is. Maybe you think you’re rubbish at public speaking and will never be able to stand up in front of a room of people? Or that you can’t make small talk with people you don’t know? Once you know your story you can re-write it. Your new story could sound like, “I’m grateful my experiences have given me the self-awareness to make different choices”. It can take time to re-write your story because you're so used to the old narrative, however, persistence is key.
Bringing your self-awareness to the way you talk to yourself plays a huge part in helping you create the life you’re actually here to live. Here’s a couple of tips to help kick start to change the way you talk to yourself.
There’s power in putting pen to paper, or even keeping a note in your phone so you can write down the negative things you’re saying to yourself. The way you talk to yourself has probably become such a habitual part of who you think you are, that you’re not even aware of the things you’re saying, so start tracking this.
This may sound crazy, uncomfortable or something you don’t want to do, but there are studies that show how powerful this tool is. If you name your negative voice, or talk to yourself in the 3rd person, it can truly help you separate yourself from the voice inside your head, and realise that's not who you are. It's just who you think you are. Every time you catch yourself saying something negative, I want you to challenge this belief, this thought, this behaviour. Where can you find evidence that this isn’t true? When can you remember being good at it? Or being liked? Or being fun?
Below are 3 journal prompts to help start to think about your beliefs, stories and to identify the conversations you’re having with yourself:
What things do I say to myself that aren’t serving me?
How are the stories I tell myself based on actual truth?
What beliefs are you holding on to that you can let go of?
I hope this enables you to bring awareness to your inner voice taking control of your life. Remember, it’s your story, write well and edit often.
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