How you feel about everything that happens in your life depends on how you think about it. The key factor in this thought process is how you conduct an internal monologue about it. Self-dialogue is all those times when we think to ourselves. It is those times when we have conversations with the devil and angel version of ourselves. How am I looking today? How successful am I? Meaning of my life? Why did she really ignore me and walked away like that? A self-dialogue is very important because it observes, judges, and decides for us how we look at almost every little aspect of our life. It helps you make decisions in life, weighs your options when you have to make an opinion about something.
Importance of Self-Dialogue
“What you think you become”Buddha
- There is a strong link between your thoughts and feelings- Imagine you are standing in front of a mirror and thinking to yourself “I have been eating too much, I am looking so fat” This thought is going to change your mood and probably ruins the day for you. It is important to think positively and control that inner critic and have a more objective self-dialogue.
- Your perspective about things in life is in accord with your self-dialogue – What you tell yourself about the external situation in life is how will you perceive it. For e.g. if you tell yourself “ it is impossible to find a decent job these days”, you will start to believe it is impossible to get one and with such a negative perspective the chances of you not landing a good enough job reduce significantly.
- It helps you feel more in control of your life- Continuing with the same example if rather tell yourself ‘ It is difficult to find a job easily these days, but if I work on my resume and be a little more rigorous with my attempt to find a job, it might increase my chances significantly” A thought like this does not just motivate you but also makes you realize that there are things which you can do something about. It will navigate you to a solution rather than feeling helpless about the situation.
How to improve and work on your self-dialogue
- Keep in check the inner critic- We tend to magnify our flaws or our disadvantaged place in life to such a degree that it immobilizes us to work on our situations. The tendency to play again and again a scenario in our minds and rejecting or criticizing ourselves for acting the way we did brings our morale down and rather than learning from it we go deeper in a dark place that we have made for ourselves with all the negative self-talk. It is important here to make sure that we give ourselves constructive criticism. Criticism that will help us deal with a similar situation and pushes us to improve rather than cripple us in future
- Challenge the cognitive distortions- Cognitive distortions are basically thoughts that occur when we misinterpret facts or read too much into what exactly might have occurred. These distortions become a prime reason why things become more painful than they might be. If a person does not get a job today and in a span of a minute of thinking starts believing that he is going to die hungry is a kind of cognitive distortion where he has overblown the real situation to a catastrophic end. In a situation like this, it’s important that you check the validity of your thought and challenge the thought that has put you in a panic situation. If we successfully deal with cognitive distortions then it’s easier to focus our energy on finding solutions to the real problem instead of getting overwhelmed by an imaginary situation.
- Explore and change the source of your negative thoughts- This will help you with the cognitive distortions as well. Go back to the time when you were overwhelmed by some extreme thought that you had. While retracing your steps you will realize that you have made a certain strong assumption about yourself. A strong belief that has been etched in your mind as a matter of fact. Detecting that and correcting this strong statement is going to help you to deal with the negative thoughts. One way to do this is by disputing with the statement, checking its rationality, and reframing the statement into something more factual and beneficial.
- Build your motivation from inside- The tone in which you converse with yourself is of utmost importance. We all have those days when we feel very motivated and highly driven to do things. On such days usually, you will notice we converse with ourselves in a kind inner tone which gives us inner strength and a positive outlook. Instead of pressing yourself down further, you should rather choose to pull yourself up with a warm and affirmative self-dialogue.
Self-dialogue is not an easy habit to build. Doing it right is going to take time and practice. But if you find that comforting and motivating voice within yourself imagine how easier the hardships of life will become. Just like any other mental exercise, you will get a hang of this and the results will be motivating enough for you to keep trying and being understanding towards yourself.
Take it easy,
(MA Clinical Psychology, PGD Counselling)