Self talk is automatic. Often we can't shut if off.
Twenty years ago it was a hot topic among the self help gurus, such as Denis Waitley. I still have his tapes, which I listened to endlessly.
His voice was soothing - and listening to his tapes stopped my inner voice for short periods of time.
The message was and likely still is about the importance of having positive self talk take the place of any negative phrases or words.
Do you listen to your inner voice?
Sometimes it runs on and on in the background. Once in a while, we might catch a phrase or two.
It can be jarring when something especially harsh pops into the mind - and the voice might sound like your Dad's voice.
When that happened to me when I was young I always felt that Dad knew what he was talking about. With my Dad, the words were on target and not at all degrading.
But with one of my best friends, that wasn't the case. He believed to his grave that he just couldn't please his father.
Often parenting happens by default. Whatever happened in the lives of parents when they were young becomes the practice as they become parents.
I had the privilege of being a music teacher in schools of Southern California and Western Colorado for about eleven years.
The bands, orchestras, and choirs had large numbers of students compared to the academic classes.
So I had contact with a lot of teenagers during those eleven years.
I could always tell what kind of parenting was going on with the students.
Most of the music students had excellent parenting. Most of those kids were very positive, happy, and productive - not only in music, but in all of their classes.
A few were struggling with issues of poor self image and lack of confidence.
It was great to get to know many of the parents - since lots of the students were in the groups for more than just one school year.
If you're a parent and you find yourself struggling to enjoy parenthood, give some thought to the words you're using and your tone of voice when you interact with your kids.
Those factors can make a really positive difference, or they can be devastating.
My sisters and I had the benefit of two parents who provided a great balance. Dad was the enforcer, and Mom provided the loving reinforcement.
Another huge benefit to us was the fact that our parents were together until our Dad died at age 86. Our Mom is still living and thriving at 95.
Our self talk can provide clues as to how to correct our own thinking.
Clearly if we hear a lot of derogatory phrases or words, we can take steps to correct our self assessment.
Everyone has strongly positive traits to emphasize in purposeful self talk.
We can also take steps to improve in areas where there are weaknesses. Especially now with the internet as a huge resource, basic skills can be improved in math and reading.
And there's always the library and the proliferation of bookstores.
I have a separate page on self help books, but I'll cover a couple of them here in connection with self talk and how to benefit from it.
One of my favorites is a book written more than 40 years ago. It's still available in bookstores, even though the author is dead.
Maxwell Malz was a plastic surgeon who made a lasting impression on a huge number of people through his famous book, Psycho-Cybernetics.
The essential thing in changing your self talk and your self image is that you believe the new information.
Maltz knew the truth of the amazing potential of every person - and he wrote in a way that his words are powerfully convincing. You can and will believe in yourself.
Just reading the second chapter repeatedly can provide great benefits. The author advised reading it three times each week for 21 days.
A great idea for self help.
One of the reasons Dr. Maltz' writing speaks so strongly is that the words convey your own experiences - actually reinforcing experiences you've already had. The words ring true.
He brings in actual words and experiences of other successful humans, such as Thomas Edison, Franz Schubert and Ralph Waldo Emerson. You realize that you've had similar experiences, and that you have the same amazing resource right in your own cranium.
In writing about Edison, Schubert and others, Maltz connects each of us not only with our own mind power, but he reconnects us with something much greater.
Science has now confirmed what philosophers, mystics, and other intuitive people have long declared: every human being has been literally "engineered for success" by his Creator. Every human being has access to a power greater than himself. (p. 27)
I've read Maltz' book from cover to cover several times during the last 40+ years - along with bunch of other books.
Yet many times my self talk is still self deprecating.
Does that happen to you?
I'm guessing it's because I'm innately stubborn. I hang onto old habits and phrases.
Self talk by definition must involve words coming from internal sources.
Often the words come so rapidly and continuously that the conscious mind can't possibly take note of all the words or fathom the meaning.
The mind seems to run on endlessly out of control.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Self talk needs to stop - at least for a little while.
Thanks, Eckhart. Thanks, John. Thanks, Ludwig, Franz, Amadeus and Hector.
Now that it has stopped or slowed down, the real mind power can take hold.
That endless inner chatter we sometimes experience usually is a burden rather than a help.
Sometimes when we're trying to solve a problem or do something creative, the inner ramblings of the mind just get in the way.
The inner voice has to be retrained.
Many of the experts try to get us to train our self talk to always be based on positive thinking.
But positive thinking and positive self talk is only helpful if it's consistent with our beliefs about ourselves.
It's often necessary to know how we came to believe certain ideas about ourselves - or how we acquired a certain self image.
Self talk is only the beginning. Imaging - imagination or the mental formation of pictures, sounds and even smells take the place of self talk - or at least supplement the phrases and slow them down.
Our brains are so incredible that the smallest details of all events are stored in there somewhere.
Usually we only retrieve a tiny fraction of the information stored during any given moment.
Undoubtedly you've had the experience of having a distant memory pop until your conscious mind seemingly out of the blue. Often a particular sight, sound or an odor is the trigger.
I find it particularly true with odors that originate in nature - such as the sweet essence the follows rainfall - especially if it's mixed with the sweet smells of any number of different flowers or blossoms.
Road apples, or horse droppings have a unique odor that can evoke pleasant or unpleasant memories depending on your experience.
Some odors trigger horrible memories.
But rather than dwell on them, just let them be a reminder of how powerful your mind is - and move back into the present moment.
Even when the memories are pleasant we do well to know the importance of living in the now - the present moment.
If your mind has always produced an avalanche of words and phrases, you might find it difficult to control the self talk.
Eckhart Tolle has written four books, starting with The Power of Now.
I have a page on Tolle which may encourage you to benefit from his writings.
Another author who has been of great benefit to Joyce and I is Dr. Alejandro Junger, M.D.
He's another of those rare medical doctors who has learned through personal experience that the medical path is not the best path.
Dr. Junger is also rare in that he teaches us from first hand experience about the mind-body connection, and the potentially devastating effects of endless self talk.
I don't think he uses the exact phrase, but he's clearly describing the same thing when he became depressed and noticed something very alarming. His mind was always thinking. There were thoughts always rolling through his mind.
He says, It was not me choosing to think them. In fact, if I had a choice I wouldn't be thinking 90 percent of the thoughts that were happening day in and out. Sometimes there were dialogues in my mind. I noticed that there was only one difference between crazy people talking to themselves in the subway and me: they were doing it out loud.
Dr. Junger tells how he went to a couple of top psychiatrists and being told that he was depressed.
One prescribed Prozac, and the other prescribed Zoloft.
Instinctively I rejected the idea of being on prescription drugs for the rest of my life.
Wow! Those instincts can be incredible.
From this guy, because of his instincts, we who read his terrific book have benefitted greatly.
The account of how Dr. Junger went on to discover the benefits of rejecting drugs and meditating instead is worth many times the price of the book.
Excellent self health care is the result of controlling self talk.
There are no end to the numbers of alternative health professionals who have been teaching patients about controlling self talk through meditation. It's been going on in non-medical health care for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Of course, there's meditating and then there's meditating.
I personally prefer the quiet approach. No mantras for me.
But then, some simple verses such as those suggested by Andrew Weiss in Beginning Mindfulness can be very helpful.
The title uses the word "mindfulness," which seems contradictory to me - since I had studied the teachings of Tolle before I read the Weiss book.
The subtitle helps, though: Learning the Way of Awareness.
Using different verses in different situations can be helpful in learning to control self talk.
I've used a few of these verses, which Weiss calls gathas, but for me, Tolle's approach is more effective.
Tolle really doesn't talk about meditating. He just teaches you how to do it most effectively.
Self talk is most effective when it stops.
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