On a drive down the Great Ocean Road in Australia, my girlfriend said to me “Tim, I notice that you create unpleasant names for drivers that do silly things on the road or don’t drive how you would like them to.”
This realization was something that I never knew I did. Over the next few days, I began analyzing what I said to drivers while driving by myself. I realized that the language I used was harsh and unfair. It turns out, the self-talk in my head was negative and harsh most of the time.
I’d figured out that actually, my self-talk is driving me crazy.
“If you could hear out loud what most people say in their head it would sound like a crazy person’s thoughts”
For pretty much everyone, the self-talk in our head is driving us crazy. The self-talk in our heads is responsible for so many of our failures and why we think the way we do. Until we change what we say to ourselves in our head, we’ll continue to trip over these internal conversations.
Here’s how to change the self-talk in your head:
Become aware of the conversation.
What triggered a change in my own self-talk was this encounter with my girlfriend realizing that I was being unfair and rude to drivers. Even with all of the self-improvement I do, the books I read and my obsession with psychology, I still missed what I was saying to myself.
Until you become aware of just how crazy your self-talk is, you won’t be able to change it. What I found difficult was that when I heard my own self-talk for what it was, I was very disappointed. The language I used and the negativity I expressed in my head towards others was completely out of alignment with everything I did in the real world.
I was saying things that I would never dare say in real life. Once you become aware of the conversation you are having in your head, what I found useful is to be compassionate with yourself. Don’t become angry or critical of your own thoughts.
It sucks to learn what you really say to yourself and I know it’s tough. The best part is that every aspect of your life can be changed. Your crazy self-talk is no different. Becoming aware is the first step to battling this demon in your head.
Is your self-talk negative most of the time?
Ask yourself this question. Like me, you’ll probably realize a lot of your self-talk is negative. This is your survival brain trying to protect you from the dangers of the big bad world that you face every day.
If your self-talk is mostly negative, then this will 100% affect your results in life and how you see the world. To stop your self-talk driving you crazy, you need to change the conversation in your head. This will not happen overnight.
You’ll need to slowly become aware of the conversation in your head and then begin to add more positive self-talk. Question the old self-talk in your head and expose it for the damage it’s doing to you. The best self-talk is a compassionate conversation.
Be kind to yourself and others when you judge them in your head. Think about what really could be going on in the lives of people you are being critical of in your head. When you do something in the real world and your negative self-talk talks that action down, tell yourself “I’m doing the best I can at this moment in time.”
Change the conversation from the adult talking down to the child, to the adult speaking with his or her’s greatest idol. Become a coach to yourself and make the conversation about how you try very hard and how you’re getting better every single day.
Tell yourself that where you are today is so much better than where you were say a few years ago. You’ve come so far and you still have so much more growth to go.
“By simply changing the characters in your head, I’ve found that manifesting positive self-talk will come into these inner conversations with yourself slowly”
Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your hero.
The conversation can be changed in your head when you imagine that you are talking to your hero in life. You wouldn’t talk negatively or swear at your hero, now would you? I’m guessing probably not. So, if you treat the conversation in your head the same way you would a conversation with your hero, you’ll be more disciplined at what you say to yourself.
Create new inputs.
Everything that goes into your head helps to shape the conversation. If you saturate your head with bad news from the TV, negative friends and colleagues, and a poor quality social media newsfeed, your head will think these inputs are real and use bits of these inputs in the conversations you have in your head.
The language, level of negativity and point of view your mind uses when creating a conversation in your head partly comes from all of the media and inputs your brain is given. “Garbage in, garbage out” as they say.
Try filling your brain with more positivity. I’ve done this for the last five years and it’s helped to shape a new conversation in my head. The best input I have found is books. There’s something about the words on a page that ingrains a new conversation in your head and changes your self-talk.
I try to read at least two positive books a month about people that are doing the extraordinary. I try to pick up what my heroes say in their head and what their self-talk is.
“You can learn so much about your hero’s self-talk through the books that tell the story of their life”
The conversation in your head requires discipline.
I say this in almost every single blog post I write. Discipline is a fundamental pillar of any change you want to make in your life. The self-talk in your head is no different. If the self-talk in your head is driving you crazy like mine did, you have to bring a new level of discipline into the fold.
When your mind starts saying dreadful things to yourself, don’t let your mind get away with it. Hold yourself accountable and insist on stopping negative self-talk when you witness it. Allowing the negative conversations to continue will hijack everything you are trying to create in life.
Your life is directed by the conversation in your head so make it a damn good one.
Break the pattern in the moment.
When you hear negative self-talk, the quickest hack you can use is to break the pattern. Interrupt the conversation in your head. Think about what you want the conversation to be instead. Don’t let the pattern keep running.
Think of your negative self-talk like an old vinyl record from the 1980’s. Pick up that negative self-talk record of material and scratch it with a screwdriver until it doesn’t play anymore. Do whatever you can to interrupt the pattern of your negative self-talk.
How my self-talk story ends.
It doesn’t. I’m still battling my negative self-talk. I will never have the conversation in my head be perfect and that’s okay. The aim of the game is to sway the conversation and at the very least, be aware of what you’re saying.
From the moment my girlfriend pointed out my negative self-talk through my driving behavior, I’ve used one hack to change the self-talk that’s driving me crazy:
Change the conversation in your head about the people around you to, “How can I be kind to this human being?”
That one question has given me a different focus that has helped to change the conversation in my head. The self-talk I have about my own actions and performance has become one of compassion like I said earlier. It’s about how I can be kinder to myself.
Changing the focus of my self-talk has been a fantastic way to rethink my inner dialogue that has driven me crazy for as long as I’ve been alive.
I’d love to see your own self-talk be transformed as well and I believe it can be based on what I’ve witnessed in my life. Kill the negative self-talk!
If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net
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