What story are you telling yourself? How your inner dialogue has a ripple effect on all your choices
The person you spend the most time with is yourself. So, I have a question for you:
Do you speak to yourself in the same way you speak to others?
We all have some form of inner dialogue that influences how we live our lives every day.
It is the root of the thoughts, beliefs, and ideas that we have about ourselves and others, both consciously and subconsciously. It can lead to a joyful and fulfilled life, or keep us stuck in place and full of indecision.
Our inner dialogue can be positive or negative, or of course a mix of both – everyone experiences both at different times.
How does yours show up most often?
Positive inner dialogue
A positive inner dialogue is kind, nurturing, more open to seeing a bigger picture, and compassionate.
The story you are telling yourself will be supportive and encouraging. Here are a few examples of the story that a positive inner dialogue could be telling you:
“I’m proud I managed to do that”
“It was a learning experience”
“I can do more than I realise, and so will try”
“I have come through a lot and stronger as a result”
“It’s a start, and I’m moving forward”
“I deserve to be happy.”
“It’s not ideal, but I can do x, y, z”
A positive inner dialogue helps you overcome obstacles, embrace new opportunities, build strong relationships, and find what makes you feel fulfilled.
It can lead to a better quality of life too!
According to Healthline, here are a few of the benefits that positive inner dialogue can have on your overall health:
- Increased vitality
- Greater life satisfaction
- Reduced pain
- Better physical wellbeing
- Improved immune function
- Better management of stress
Though there is no real scientific reason behind this, the general consensus is that the more positive a story you tell yourself, the more mentally resilient you become.
Compassion is much more motivating than criticism; you know this from interacting with others.
Why wouldn’t you apply the same rules to yourself?
Negative inner dialogue
A negative inner dialogue is more critical, hostile, defensive and limiting. It will be unkind to you in a way you would unlikely ever be to others, because it is picking on your deepest beliefs about yourself.
An article from Psychology Today concludes that negative inner dialogue comes from our earliest ancestors. They had to scan their environment constantly for threats and so focusing on the negative helped them survive.
But we don’t live in these times anymore; we don’t need to keep focusing on danger, fears and worries.
You will still face your own struggles, but in many cases this negative inner dialogue now holds you back. It keeps you trapped in toxic workplaces and unfulfilling relationships, and from reaching your potential.
According to Mindful.org, there are four key types of negative inner dialogue we can fall into:
Catastrophising: You jump to the worst-case scenario immediately. The idea behind it is sound – if you expect the worst and plan for it, it will hurt less. But in reality, you hamper your capacity to respond to future challenges. By constantly asking “What if…”, logic and reason disappear, and anxiety levels increase unnecessarily. You focus on the worst, and look for signs that validate this thinking.
Blaming: You blame yourself for the pain of others or blame others for your pain, lingering in negative feelings rather than moving past them.
Re-hashing: You get stuck in the past, replaying events – and only in a negative way. You will replay situations, conversations, and emotions build as a result.
Rehearsing: Rehashing, but for events that haven’t happened yet – essentially, pre-empting. By running through every negative scenario that could arise, you’re exhausted before it even begins, and not giving yourself the opportunity to have a positive experience.
The story you might be telling yourself with a negative inner dialogue could include:
“I let everyone down with my actions, and this will be no different.”
“That didn’t work out, so I’m a failure.”
“Nobody will ever listen to me.”
You deserve to live as fully and joyfully as possible – and you can turn your negative inner dialogue into a positive one.
Here are a few tips to help you do it.
- Pay attention to your own narrative
Spend a little time every day tuning in to what you tell yourself.
Make a note of what you say to yourself about the different aspects of your life – your relationships, your work, your hobbies. Which are positive statements, and which aren’t?
This helps you to identify patterns in the story you are telling yourself, and pick up on any stress triggers that lead you towards a negative inner dialogue.
The better you get to know your inner dialogue, the more effectively you can take control of it and change it to serve you positively instead.
2. Reframe your inner dialogue
This one can be tricky, because it involves unpicking long-term patterns of behaviour.
When you recognise negative inner dialogue, try to turn it into a positive instead.
So, instead of thinking:
“I’ll never be good enough to do that, so I shouldn’t try.”
Pause, reflect, and instead tell yourself:
“I’ll do my best. It’s okay if I don’t succeed – I will be proud of myself for trying, and will know how to do differently another time.”
See the difference?
The most important relationship you have in life is the one that you have with yourself. Put in the time and effort to make it a good one.
It might take patience, and trial and error, but in the end you will doubt yourself less, and live each day with more self-love, self-esteem, and self-understanding.
3. Talk to yourself positively
Actively making positive statements about yourself can help to redirect your thoughts. Start each day with focusing on the positive, even on how you can better handle situations. When you are aware of a negative perception, stop yourself and change the statement to become more positive.
Slowly, you will change the story you tell yourself for the better, which will help you to make choices that are in your best interests.
4. Catch your thoughts
Catching thoughts and emotions early is powerful, as you can literally change the chain of reaction, thus there will be different thought processes, actions and outcomes. It takes effort and inner connection, but doing this means you get the chance to catch and decide what to discard and what to let sit within your mind.
Hopefully now you have an understanding of your inner dialogue, and how it has a ripple effect on not only the story you tell yourself, but all of the choices you make in life.
The above advice will help you start to create a more positive inner dialogue, but you may want professional help to make a permanent shift.
If that’s the case, transformational life coaching could be of benefit to you, and help you gain confidence within yourself.
This style of coaching is entirely bespoke, with no ‘musts’ or rigid plans. Our journey is built around you, your experience, and what you need to make real sustainable change.
If you are ready to thrive in life, please get in touch to see if we are a good fit to work together.