A few years ago, if I‘d been asked, I would have said, “talking to myself in any form is madness!”. I would have believed then, that any sign of talking to myself meant that maybe I was starting to become the crazy old lady who talks out loud to herself on the street corner. But though I tried my best to make my mind stop talking it was still loud and disturbing. I saw this mental activity as a nuisance, that created suffering, disconnected me from paying attention to my body and created what I dismissed then, as ‘false feelings’, that I would try to overcome.
I also heard at the time about positive thinking techniques which, to be honest I thought about then as ‘only for nutcases’. Not only would this mean I would talk to myself, but I would also try to convince myself by way of what I thought to be lies. I thought ‘positive thinking’ would only disconnect me further from my body and the truth of reality.
But lately, as part of the changes in my approach towards personal development, I wanted to rethink this attitude. What is the meaning of this talk in my mind? Is it really false, or is there some kind of communication with myself happening, that is relevant and powerful?
Listening to my Inner Voice
It is true that certain forms of repetitive mind talk, like repetitive judgements and self-criticism, can take my attention away from what I really want and might damage my motivation and my will in the process. But judgement is not the only thing on my mind, and sometimes listening to what I have to say, will be a greater step towards personal change and growth, rather than away from it.
For example, a discussion with someone that is taking place in my mind, can be the result of a few things. It might be because I’m not yet clear and I need the time to connect to my feelings and my thoughts. Maybe I need to think them through and integrate them before I speak them out loud, or maybe I need to ‘try it out’ first – practice the conversation, imagine possible reactions, and think through the different scenarios for myself. Or more confrontingly, maybe the whole problem is that I am so afraid to speak my mind to these certain people, or so angry, and this is the essence that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with?
My worries often come as warnings to me, either for what I need to prepare for, or to alert me that I might need different actions, or might be going in the wrong direction – one that is just not good for me. I can definitely see for myself, that if I lose sleep over something, it means that I need time for a ‘quiet talk with myself’, to feel and think something through and be able to make clear decisions about it.
Finding Clarity Around What I Truly Want
Today, I listen carefully to everything my mind has to say and try to get to the source of it. It might conceal a truth that is worth noticing. If my head shouts out “it won’t work out…” again and again, I will not dismiss it immediately as ‘repetitive self-doubt’. It might be that my mind is telling me that what I plan to do, or how I plan to do it is not good for me and maybe I won’t continue in the same direction. But, I must not listen only to my mind. I must also feel my body, my emotions and my needs and reflect on reality. If there is a feeling that something is wrong, I ask myself questions – what is happening? What do I feel and why is it that my mind is telling me this?
By answering these questions, I can reach clarity in the situation I am in, first for myself and then also so I can communicate it within my surroundings and act upon it. In certain cases, I will discover that my mind is bringing up a fear, or other emotions from the past and that it is not in correlation with what is happening at the moment. But also then, I will give it full respect, I will find the time and space to let it be in my body, and go with it as it takes the steps it needs. I will pay attention to when it is doing me well and not force myself to ignore it because it feels scary or unclear.
Our communication with ourselves is an important thing that allows us to integrate what we feel and want with our thinking, and that leads us to decide on the most suitable actions. We need this ability to put our emotions into words, to reflect on the situations, and yes – think and talk with ourselves sincerely. Sometimes, just saying the words out loud will provide us with the depth and clarity around what we truly want.
Never Say Never, or my Personal Experience with Positive Thinking
If it wasn’t my aunt as the facilitator, I would have probably never tried it out. But luck and reality brought me into this situation that called exactly for that. I was lying on my aunt’s working table, while she touched me and asked me to say different positive affirmations about myself and my ability to deal with the situation I was facing. In the beginning it was awkward, but then I told myself, “okay, you are here, just go with it”. I didn’t pretend or lie to myself and didn’t say anything that I couldn’t stand behind 100%. I also didn’t just repeat her words. I chose to trust myself, to imagine the future in a positive way and to focus on the open possibilities, on feeling my qualities and my power and stating that out loud. I felt my body and breathed quite deeply to push through my hesitations and embody these experiences.
The effect was amazing. My body reacted in a way that I did not expect and I felt physically and emotionally much stronger and lighter. I could see that positive discussion with myself could be incredibly powerful, when done whole heartedly and with all of my energy and my body behind it.
Writing this post too, was a process of communication with myself – creating clarity and finding my own position on this subject. I hope it will inspire your communication with yourselves to find what works for you.
By Merav Gur Arie.
- Note: Merav will present ‘I Want – A Workshop for Women‘ on the 7th and 8th October. We encourage you to join – click the link for more information.