Updated: Jun 10
Whether or not you’ve noticed, you, like me and every other human being, move through each day leading on a constant inner conversation.
We talk to ourselves about what’s happening and what it means. We judge ourselves in how we to react to others. We notice that today’s events link to yesterday’s struggles and tomorrow’s possibilities.
Some of these thoughts are favorable but many are highly self-critical. We give meaning to emotional suffering, dreams, yearnings and discomfort. We imagine what others are thinking, especially about us.
Our inner conversation is more than the sum total of our thoughts. It defines the relationship we have with ourselves. It also demonstrates how our relationships connect us to everyone else.
How we talk to ourselves decides how we feel about others and ourselves. We see life through our own lens through which we perceive as reality. But that ‘reality’ might be a place that’s radically different from the real world.
Our inner conversations decide the quality of each moment in our life. Beyond the quality of each moment, what else is there? What else matters?
The Answers Are Never Outside
Many of us neglect our inner dialogue despite how valuable it could be to us. We look for answers to our problems outside ourselves. We think that better external circumstances will bring us happiness. How could we not? After all, this message is plastered all over the web, slotted into every movie and is the driver of most advertisements.
Mesmerized by modern-day consumerism, we live in a trance that seems to miss the obvious cracks. Do you know someone who has everything but appreciates nothing? For every imaginable hardship, we find examples of people who have blossomed from it.
One person loses their job and falls into a state of despair; another person loses their job and takes the opportunity to start up their own business.
Steve Jobs co-founded Apple at 21. He was worth millions by age 23. He enlisted an experienced Fortune 500 CEO John Sculley then 3 years later, Sculley fired him. Jobs said:
"I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired
from Apple was the best thing that could have
ever happened to me"
He started his second company, NeXT, which was ultimately acquired by Apple--and Jobs became CEO again.
The difference is a consequence of how each person translates the meaning of losing their job. It’s not intrinsic within the people or the situation. How they responded to these life events comes down to the conversation they have with themselves.
When We Tell Ourselves Unhelpful Things
“When I find the perfect one, then I will be happy.”
One of the unhelpful ideas we carry around is the idea that we need to find someone to love us.
Of course this is harmful because imagine if we believed this about other things i.e. we need another person to feed us, we actually become a dependent personality and even a disabled personality.
A relationship is not meant to make us happy, it’s our job to make us happy. To expect another person to curb their commitments in order to make us happy is insanity. Yet we do it and we’ve accepted that it’s totally fine to give the remote control of our life to another person.
If we look to relationships to fill a void, we put a kind of pressure on someone else and allow them to have a dominion over how we feel.
We long for someone to discover us and admire us but why must that be another person? Why can’t we explore our potential and get a handle on our qualities and talents.
If we are looking for a relationship before we can be happy, then we are placing happiness into someone else’s hands. By looking within ourselves, we can find the goldmines of potential to fulfill our lives and ourselves.
We don’t need to make our lives perfect to mine the gold within us. Trying to make our life perfect is putting our happiness into some future event then trying our best to reach it.
No amount of relationship romance, career success or money will bring us joy until we learn to stop talking ourselves out of living with joy.
One Of The Most Important Inner Conversations We’ll Ever Have Is Challenging That Critical Voice
The best way to heal the unhelpful conversations is to learn to have meaningful conversations with ourselves.
All of us have a small part of us inside. This part of us needs our support and compassion. It’s a vulnerable part of us that is looking for love and if we don’t give that love to ourselves, this small part of us looks outside ourselves to get those needs met.
By taking care of this part of us we have the opportunity to heal old wounds. In taking care of this part of us, we learn to live in the world with self-love.
Growing self-love is the way to reclaim our real selves. It allows us to live more authentically and relate to others in a more healthy way. It frees us from needing others or outer success to feel fulfilled. It allows us to be in the present moment. Living in the present moment touches our natural joy.
In order to support that small part of us, we need to challenge the critical voice we have inside us. We need to quieten it down and, with logic, face the messages it’s bombarding us with.
These messages are often a hangover from earlier days and are no longer valid.
They contain incorrect information and need to be updated. The only reason they have such a hold on us is because it has become a perpetual habit to listen to them.
All we have to do to get rid of them is to replace them with a new message. To break a life- long habit, we simply need to be firm with ourselves about this.
How To Tackle Those Critical Messages
Listen carefully to the ‘polluted’ message – you will know what it is because when you hear it you will feel ashamed.
Catch it and study it.
Think back to when you first heard it. Who said it to you? Think hard and you will find the answer. You will realize that you are obeying it even though it comes from someone for whom you may have no respect or love. If they were obeying you after many years, wouldn’t you think it was a little strange?
You are responsible for taking the correct course of action to remedy these old messages. No one is making you do what you don’t want to do.
Next, write down the message on a piece of paper. Then put a line through it and write the antidote next to it. Stick it on the wall where you will see it all the time. If this is not possible because others live with you, then draw a picture or write it in code.
As you read it, the new message will filter into your consciousness and you will find yourself adapting to it. All you are doing is changing a thinking habit – albeit a very ingrained one. In a few days the new message will be taking over from the old one.
Some Examples Of Messages And Their Antidotes:
Message: I am stupid
Antidote: I am not stupid, I have easily passed many life tests
Message: I am frightened I will go broke
Antidote: Take that fear and, just for this next five minutes, let it go
Message: I will never get my music deal
Antidote: You may or may not get a music deal, but whether or not you get it, you can still be happy
Just reading these through as you notice them stuck on the wall will remind you that you have an old habit that needs to be replaced by a new one, and what new thinking needs to be put into place to make a change. It really is that simple. It’s recommended you stick with replacing one old message at a time.
Remember you must have a new message to replace the old one – you don’t want to leave a vacuum. As you practice this, you will notice that when the Post-it note on the wall bores you it will mean you have registered the new message.
Now it’s time to move on to the next old message. You will find each note stays on the wall for a shorter time. It might start off as two weeks and you will move it to two days. Your assimilation will accelerate in the light of new experience. Don’t make it any more complicated; that’s as simple as it needs to be.
By reconnecting with that part of us that is aching for our love, we can establish an ongoing conversation that can - literally - alter the course of our life.