Jo Blakeley talks about cleaning house.
April is a refreshing time of year and the perfect opportunity to brush away the cobwebs. I find it curious, however, that this time of year can prompt you to spring-clean your house but would you ever consider spring-cleaning your mind? And why would you bother?
Are you aware that you talk to yourself all day every day? (If you can hear yourself saying, “What’s she talking about? Talking to myself? I don’t talk to myself,” then you know what I am referring to!) These conversations can range from anything from the odd word to long conversations. The length of your self-talk is not important but the content of what you’re saying is. Is it positive or negative?
For example, are you constantly telling yourself how wonderful and talented you are, what good luck you always have and what a good job you’re doing? Or are you telling yourself that you’re going to fail, everything always goes wrong and that you’ll probably die soon of some horrible disease? My money is on the latter.
If you’re now saying to yourself, “so what?” I need to explain the damage you are doing to yourself.
Think about a harmless drop of water dripping from a leaking tap. If it’s fixed promptly, there’s likely to be no lasting impact. Now imagine that this leak continues for 50 years. Think of all the water wasted and the damage it has caused in terms of erosion.
Self-talk is like the drop of water. It’s a subtle running commentary going on in the background of your mind. If the odd harmful word is said to yourself, it probably won’t adversely affect you but let the barrage of criticism, sarcasm and put-downs continue all day every day for 50 years and it will seriously affect your health.
Think about it. How does it make you feel when you tell yourself you’re a good-for-nothing idiot versus a wonderful, compassionate and thoughtful person?
If your self-talk is positive, it can be like an internal cheer-leader boosting your confidence, motivating you to step outside your comfort zone and encouraging you to realise your goals. However, if it’s negative, it’s like an inner tormentor, destabilising you, judging you and knocking your self-belief day after day.
Essentially, what you say in your mind can determine how you feel about yourself and this can affect what you achieve in life.
Louise Hay sums it up perfectly: “…if you don’t have the thought, you won’t have the feeling. And thoughts can be changed. Change the thought, and the feeling must go.”
Unfortunately, many people have an inner judge who is more critical than anybody else; even your worst enemy. It can be unrelenting in its barrage of negative comments and put downs. And you are blissfully unaware that you are doing it. Or you were.
The first step in changing your self-talk is to identify it. Because your thoughts are so habitual, you often don’t know what thoughts you are thinking that are causing the harm. Therefore, start taking note over the next few days of what you are saying to yourself. Often, just being aware of your inner voice and its content is enough to change it. If it’s not, however, assess your self-talk and notice whether it is positive or negative. If it the latter, ask yourself if there is any legitimacy to this thought? Is there a more positive way of seeing the situation? What would you say if you were encouraging a loved one?
Finally, replace the negative thoughts with more positive alternatives.
Transforming self-talk – like any new skill – requires practice and perseverance. However, once you’ve got into the habit of listening to your self-talk like a kind friend and replacing any unconstructive thoughts with constructive thoughts, you will find that you will feel differently about yourself and will, ultimately, start to notice positive changes in your life.
So the next time you say something negative to yourself, say, “thank you for pointing out that I am an idiot, however, I would prefer to recognise that I have just learnt a valuable lesson in how not to do something. Geniuses do that you know!”
Happy spring cleaning.
Jo Blakeley is the debut author of Blokes, Beers & Burritos, a book which heralds the beginning of a new genre of self-help fiction, combining erotica, travel, fiction and self-help. Readers are entertained and titillated by a story based on the author’s own experiences, while learning how to achieve happiness and empowerment with Ten Steps to Bliss – a programme created by Jo Blakeley, AKA The Bliss Expert, of self-help exercises to help women achieve blissful and empowered lives.
Jo Blakeley trains people in confidence, communication and leadership skills. She marries soft skills with hard science and, as a qualified NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) trainer and has helped helping hundreds of people be the best that they can be, both personally and professionally.