Our human brains and our ability to “talk” to ourselves are miracles of nature. Problem is, they often get things wrong ̶ or even totally backwards. So say two of my favorite and very wise self-help authors and teachers, Byron Katie and Martha Beck. I am learning to believe them.
Take for example the ways we talk to, scold, or belittle ourselves. Or even freak ourselves out completely.
- “I should be getting more done.”
- “Everyone is more productive and successful than I am.”
- “I need to lose weight.”
- “I look terrible in this outfit.”
- “I’m not good enough.”
- “What I’m writing right now will make no sense to others.”
(Yes, that last thought just went through my own head.)
What’s the deal? Why do we punish our precious, amazing, and brilliant selves in this way?
If you really look at the truth of the way things are in your life, you will realize that your self-talk should very likely say exactly the opposite of what it is currently saying.
I took some time just now to do my own experiment here. I sat at my kitchen table with my afternoon cup of coffee and allowed my usual river of self-talk to begin flowing. I don’t know about you, but my self-talker can really get to babbling. As I enjoyed my coffee, I paid attention and just listened. Whenever I “heard” something, especially something worrisome or self-demeaning, I promptly wrote the exact opposite in my journal as a positive affirmation. The result? Some very kind, compassionate, uplifting, and – as it turns out – very true statements flowed onto the pages.
Guess how I felt after about 20 minutes of this? Amazing!!!
I quickly realized this could be an excellent technique for diffusing the common discomfort and stress we sometimes experience in networking and social situations.
Be honest. How many times have you attended a networking event, meet-up, or other social gathering and felt totally ill at ease – or just not totally comfortable or confident – in your ability to make conversation and connections? What if you took the time to notice the negative self-talk in your head that goes with this feeling and completely turned it around?
For example, maybe you’re thinking one of these thoughts:
- “I won’t know anyone here.”
- “I don’t know what to say or even how to get a conversation going.”
- “I have nothing in common with these people.”
- “I don’t belong here.”
- “There’s no one here I really want to know or who can help me.”
- “I feel so awkward; I don’t know what to do.”
- “This is so painful and draining.”
- “I should have stayed home.”
Now, one by one, diffuse these very self-demeaning thoughts and come up with positive, encouraging opposites.
- “I probably know someone here – or I’ll just make some cool new friends.”
- “I know exactly what to say and will enjoy some great conversations.”
- “There are so many people here who I’d like to know and who can help me and share their wisdom with me.”
- “I will discover that I have a lot in common with these people.”
- “I belong here.”
- “I feel comfortable and confident and know exactly what to do.”
- “This is so much fun and energizing!”
- “I will be so glad I came here!”
Sound a little crazy? Maybe. But, I challenge you to give it a try. Sometimes our worst enemies are the pesky demons within us. And our biggest weakness is our attitude. Why not make peace, denounce the tyranny, and become a more positive and encouraging force in your own life – and social life?
Let me know what you think about this. Crazy? Effective? Life-altering?
Could you or your people use a dose of uplifting ideas to make conversing, connecting, and collaborating a more enjoyable, positive, and productive experience? Contact me at patti[at]intentionalnetworker[dot]com and let’s talk about how my workshops and other programs can create positive changes in your work environment.
Patti, I love that sentence: “I don’t know about you, but my self-talker can really get to babbling.” Oh, yes! (Especially in the middle of the night.) Thanks for the suggestion on how to counter it. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to tune it out–with varying degrees of success–and am looking forward to trying your constructive approach.
Hi Julie! Yes, my little mind is often aswirl with thoughts. Many positive and creative and full of possibilities, but some just not very helpful. Who needs those??? Hope the technique I shared works for you! Thanks for the comment!
Amen! Amen! Amen! You know how I feel — “the most important story you’ll ever hear is the one you tell yourself.” So, I agree with you. Make it a good one. My evil babbler would have me think I should be able to do this with ease by now. My compassionate inner voice–I call her Miss Rita–reminds me it’s a daily (sometime moment by moment) practice. Love your examples of how to change that self-talk into an engaging force. You’ve made my day fill with sunshine and it’s not even 8:30a.
So glad you found this helpful and affirming. Golly, we can be so tough on ourselves!! Hope the rest of your day / week are filled with sunshine, ease and grace! Thanks for commenting!