For me, an important part of inner beauty is creating deep self-love and a honest, authentic, and compassionate relationship with ourselves. And just like any relationship, good and loving communication is a key to keeping your relationship with your Self positive, loving, and strong. This then radiates outward to all of the relationships we have and our way of being in the world.
Self-Talk as Self-Love
Do you sometimes catch yourself saying things to yourself you would never say to someone you loved? One of the myriad ways that we can take better care of ourselves is by creating a more kind and loving internal dialogue. In my own life, as well as in my time as a therapist working with clients, working to actively examine and shift the dialogue that runs through our heads really set the foundation for positive growth and deeper self-love and compassion.
Identifying if there are areas of our lives in which we are making unnecessarily negative assumptions and having a negative internal dialogue and then actively working to challenge this tendency can have enormous benefits on your mood, self-confidence and self-love, and your ability to treat yourself well.
Negative, Positive, or Neutral?
There are multiple ways to interpret every experience we have. Those interpretations then generate the meaning and impact of the experience on us, what we tell ourselves about it, our resulting emotions and reactions, and ultimately helps shape how we feel about ourselves.
The first step to really improving how we talk to ourselves is looking at the various areas of our lives and our assumptions within them and identifying if they tend to be positive, negative, or neutral. Coming to understand where we make unnecessarily negative interpretations about our experiences and then challenging them helps set the stage for a much more loving relationship with ourselves.
For example, in a situation in which you encounter someone you know but who does not say hello, there are many things you could assume. You could assume they are ignoring you purposely or might be upset with you. Or, that they were daydreaming or perhaps forgot their glasses that day. Alternatively, you could think that they may be pre-occupied with something going in their own life. Without knowing any other information, all of these are equally possible explanations. However, each of these assumptions will have a different emotional impact on us, generate a different kind of internal dialogue, and impacts how we react to the situation and feel about ourselves.
If you assume someone is upset with you, you may feel frustrated, angry, sad, or defensive and tell yourself “I’m not good at keeping friends” and this may cause you to withdraw or confront them. Alternatively, the assumption that your friend has something pre-occupying them may cause you to feel care or concern and generate an internal dialogue which says “I’m a caring friend and I value this person and their experience” and then causes you to reach out at a later point, strengthening your friendship and creating more positivity in your life.
Not Just Thinking "Happy Thoughts"
Challenging negative assumptions and creating more positive dialogue with yourself isn’t just a process of cheerleading with overly positive statements that you may not really believe. It is about really deconstructing thoughts and beliefs that cause negativity within and looking at them objectively and with the same sense of compassion and understanding for yourself that you would extend to any one you loved.
If there are particular aspects of your life or Self where difficult emotions like guilt, anger, fear, anxiety, sadness, or disappointment come up, it can help to look at what assumptions you are making within them, what statements you are making to yourself about them, and then practice finding more compassionate ways to view yourself and talk to yourself in the situation.
Creating More Loving Self-Talk
Begin creating more loving self-talk by really noticing your internal dialogue…what do you say to yourself and how do you say it? This may just be setting the intention to be more aware in the moment or could take the form of spending some time each evening reflecting on the day, what assumptions were made, and how you spoke to yourself. Often, journaling about these thoughts and then creating and writing down more neutral or positive statements that resonate with you to have ready for the next time a similar situation occurs can be extremely helpful. Try talking to yourself as you would speak to your dearest friend.
Try asking yourself some of these questions:
- What assumptions am I making about this situation?
- Am I being objective? Am I considering all the possibilities? Would I view this the same way if it was happening to a friend?
- What proof do I have that what I am assuming is true? Are there any other possibilities?
- What would my most caring and compassionate friend say to me about this?
- Would I speak to a friend, loved one, or child the way I am speaking to myself now? What would I say to them about this instead?
Setting the intention of being mindful of your inner dialogue and then consciously stopping and shifting to a more loving voice can help make huge shifts in our emotions, reactions to the world, and level of self-love. Find a way of doing this that works for you! Maybe its setting a few alarms on your phone every day to just pause and reflect for a few moments on how your inner dialogue has been the last few hours and what you might want to shift about it. Or maybe its sitting down with your journal every evening and reflecting on the day and your thoughts. Whatever it is, setting the intention to become more aware of your self-talk and then making the choice to shift it creates a wonderful foundation for more self-love!
Wishing you much Love and Beauty,