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Be Mindful of Your Self-talk. Remember, It's A Conversation WithThe Universe

“I just need to get up and do it”.

“I need to work on that”

“Get up and do it!”.

“I’m too lazy”

“I should have worked out today”

“I shouldn't eat this”

“Why did this happen to me?”

“With my luck, something bad will happen”

“I suck at this”

How many of these have you said to yourself over the years? What have you said to yourself that’s worse than the above? I know I have called myself some names you wouldn't call your worst enemy. These negative talk examples and many more are tyrannical thoughts and words we use against ourselves with a victim mentality. We look at what we think we should be and berate ourselves for not being that person or not being able to perform that task. We judge ourselves harsher than anyone ever could, but how do we stop this negative thought cycle?

Well, instead of shaming ourselves and attempting to tyrannically overthrow our thoughts and thought processes, we can begin to negotiate with ourselves. While the tyranny of forcing yourself to do something can bring about short term results and behavior change, the change is not sustainable. If you look at the classic depiction of military boot camps, drill sergeants scream and yell at their subjects day after day for weeks on end to retrain the brain to be submissive to orders, but over time this bellowing and beratement eases off and the chatter becomes structural. The goal at that point is to rebuild the mind with thoughts of confidence, self efficacy and competence.

It is now time for us to begin catching our negative self-talk, recognize it with curiosity and change the thought to begin a new cycle of positive and uplifting self perception. An example of this might be, “I suck at math”. I catch that thought and say to myself, “that’s interesting”. Then I might ask myself, “What would I have to do to become better at math?”. Notice I am asking myself a question here instead of simply dismissing an self diagnosed inept ability to solve math problems.

Another example might be, “I am so lazy”. Here I might ask myself, “What could I do in the next 10 minutes that needs to be done around the house? Many times we look at tasks like laundry and think, “I have to do laundry”. Again the designation “I have to” are tyrannical words, but if we shift the thoughts to asking ourselves questions we begin to go a little easier on ourselves. By asking ourselves questions, the likelihood of us changing is much greater. People make positive, long term changes with positive reinforcement not negative reinforcement.

Michael Keane


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