Do you ever stop to listen to the self-talk going on in your mind? I mean, besides the constant reminders of taking out the trash or remembering to call your mother about holiday plans or the last minute addition to the shopping list.
How does your inner dialogue sound?
Your boss stops you at 10am on Wednesday and reminds you of the report she asked for on Monday that’s due by 12noon. Your face smiles, and your mouth forms the words, “Of course, I’ll get right on it!” But your inner dialogue goes something like this, “Great, now she thinks I’m slacking at my job. I’m a total loser!”
A fellow church member calls to ask if you’ll serve on a committee for the annual bake sale. You politely decline but think, “I probably should have said yes. My schedule is booked full the month of the bake sale, but it’s church and the other committee members will look down on me for saying no.”
You bump into an acquaintance at the grocery store and exchange small talk for a few minutes. Walking away you think, “I couldn’t even remember where I knew him from! He probably thinks I’m a flake and an awkward conversationalist because I forgot his wife died last month and I asked how she was doing! I stink at social interactions!”
Sound familiar? We all have an inner dialogue and self-talk. It’s those little thoughts we tell ourselves throughout the day– a self-conversation, a running commentary on daily life. And some of it is benign (like the shopping list reminders), but some of it can be harmful (like calling ourselves names). Would you say those same things out loud to your best friend, your spouse, or your child?
In our relationships with those we love, we say things that are truthful but encouraging and supportive. Why not take the same tact with our inner dialogue? It’s healthy to take a good, honest look at our behaviors and make changes if we need to. But that doesn’t mean we should berate ourselves in the process. I’m not a loser if I’m running slightly behind schedule on the report my boss wanted. Perhaps I need to improve my time management skills, though. I’m not socially inept because I forgot someone’s spouse passed away when I hardly ever see him to know the latest news.
The key is to treat ourselves with compassion. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes and forget things and act awkwardly sometimes. So pay attention to your self-talk and see what’s being said. Question it. Address it. Change it. And while you’re there, slip in a few positive affirmations along the way. A few “high five– you’re doing an awesome job!”‘s will go a long way to brightening your day.
If you’re curious about how music therapy and GIM might help, contact me anytime. I’m always happy to answer questions! You can also watch my video about this here.