Self-talk. We all do it. It’s part of the mysterious design. But what is it? Why is it powerful? What can we know about it and do with it?
We have a running dialogue in our heads and bodies, assessing, discussing, feeding us with descriptive language of our performance or experiences, defining and explaining everything to us, summing up our worth and value, our measure, our safety and position in all the places and spaces, for better or worst. It’s very difficult to be still enough to have a conversation with it. We often take it to heart or at face value and instantly accept whatever that voice is as the truth. Sometimes we are very upset by these thoughts and they roll around in our minds causing lingering anxiety.
Whose voice is that anyway? Is it always from the same source? How do we know it’s our Inner Truth Teller? How can we tell when it isn’t? How can we know if it needs attention or if it can be noted and pass like a weather system? When are we still enough to separate that voice from the chaos of life’s demands and all-time experiences?
We actually have a line to our Inner Truth Teller that feels like a wholeness, like our sovereign being-ness rather than a separate authority assessing and informing. It can be fleeting and surprising, and/or we can be within it as a practice.
How to Meet Our Inner Truth Teller?
There are many ways to practice engaging with it - discerning our self-talk, and truth. SO many. No right way, maybe several ways that feel wrong to an individual and right for another. We can explore some paths to be curious, and then will unleash more ideas in our own best languages. How then do we engage with our Inner Truth Teller to have the Real Conversation with our self-talk?
We’ve mentioned 5 paths through our questions above:
Questioning the source of the voice
Recognizing your inner truth teller
All 5 begin with curiosity and presence. We each have a way to awaken and invite curiosity and presence into our selves: a prayer, a meditation, a walk, art, writing, music, doodling, cooking, nature, dancing or other body moving, questioning, finding connections - similarities, differences, etc. The invitation is to open ourselves to a removed place of wonder and safety, which is helpful to the kind of curiosity and presence needed for the self discovery we are exploring. It can be as simple as guiding ourselves with “a few intentional breaths to shift from a doing mind to a being presence.” Feel free to keep a log of what comes from the interactions listed below. The idea is to explore and get out of our heads, so seeing these things written out is very helpful and recommended. It also may be a lot to keep track of. We can get rid of it later if we want to, in any way we want to. Fire pit, collage, who knows?
1. Acknowledging Self-Talk:
At this point, we are the observer. We are not fixing, changing, judging, deciding anything. Only observing and getting to know more consciously what we can about our self-talk. There will be surprises here. Notice the running dialogue that is going on as you are involved in what you are doing, feeling, experiencing. Notice the quality of the dialogue: how it shifts and changes, what is its message, tone, attitude, vocabulary, timing. Notice if it changes as the circumstances change: time of day, hunger, energy level, stress, people, performance, activity, weather, types of people around. Continue noticing all kinds of things. Does the voice switch from 1st person (I, me, mine) to 2nd (you, yours) or third person (she/he/they), does it call you by name? What emotions do you feel when you hear it, and is it always the same? What else do you notice?
2. Questioning the Source of the Voice:
Now that we have spent time noticing patterns and more, we can begin asking: Do we recognize the roots of these kinds of patterns. Are these the values and ideals that we perceived from our childhoods, our family members or other influences, our work groups, our cultural norms? Next, we ask: Are we in agreement with what the voice is sharing with us. If we are, that’s great. If we are not, then that is also great. We can now address this. If we sort of are or aren’t in agreement - also great - we have a plan for this too. We’ll get to that next. You have gone very far already! *
3. Recognizing Your Inner Truth Teller:
The closer we can get to our truth teller, the more we can decode if it’s a shift, a reframe, a reset, a kindness, or another kind of need in the self-talk that is happening. We can engage in a conversation with this inner dialogue and find words that are curious, expansive, homing, rather than judging, chastising, confining, socially popular, trendy, or familiar to get closer to who we actually are, what we really are about and processing on our own sovereign terms. Notice the character and nuance of the words, restrictive words, words we use that are familiar, close enough - but not quite. We know when it’s a match or close or not it. For words that are not it or close, get out a thesaurus and look it up, try on similar and related words. Distraction/distracted/ADD or unsettled might be more like: loss or unconnected. Undisciplined or procrastinating might be: overwhelmed, detached
Self-talk is near constant. It’s the mind doing what the mind does, like the lungs and the heart doing what they do. We forget this, or maybe never thought of it like this and so take it very to heart without much question. But a thought is to the mind as a breath is to the lung. Some breaths are involuntary and some breaths are within our control. Such are thoughts. Even our self-talk. We can also equate our thoughts to the weather. Some are storms that we can recognize and let pass as the mind being the mind, and not take too seriously. It’s popping up because there’s a pattern somewhere creating a systemic response that doesn’t require anything other than riding it out. We’ll know if it really requires some attention
Stillness is can be challenging in our action oriented culture. Can we be still enough to be with life’s chaos, with our inner experience of ourselves in the world and our circumstances, of how we feel among the world as we get around in our responsibilities, demands, relationships? How do we separate or unite our self-talk from our strains and experience a sense of wholeness, or inner sovereignty? Having a conversation with ourself in curiosity and presence includes all the steps before of Acknowledging, Questioning, Recognizing, Weathering to be able to step into Beingness instead of Doing-ness. Our stillness welcomes the real conversation to continue in our self-talk.
The Practice of The Real Conversation
This Being-ness can initiate The Practice of The Real Conversation, and as the real conversation continues, we are able to acknowledge, question, recognize, weather, and be still, ultimately creating a practice which reforms our self-talk to match our true nature.
Our true nature is present when our self-talk speaks to us constructively, kindly, in a tone that is respectful, guiding, matching our inner values. It is whole with our inner sovereign nature. It guides, soothes, liberates, brings us home to ourselves instead of away. Sometimes it is reminiscent of time, place, experiences, and can be an indirect messenger. Sometimes it simply chatters, like the sound of rain. And we breathe as it passes. And we thank our minds for doing as the mind does as we celebrate our wholeness.
“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” Charles Bukowlski
*(2.)Please know we may discover a root that is disruptive or conflicting that requires some follow-up care, and please follow up on any supportive care that you feel led to, even if it's taking time reflectively acknowledging it in some gentle way. We can also be in disagreement with a root and still love, have affection for, or respect that messenger/time/place without it creating a rift or complete disruption.
Rev. Dr. Birdi Sinclair
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C. Master Spiritual & Wholeness Arts Coach™
Grief Specialist, Therapeutic Artist, Author
Ceremony & Ritual Designer, Love Maverick
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