Handling Mental Chatter

(Previously published on an old blog, but moved to this one in 2017.)

A lot of you made New Year resolutions recently and have been working toward them.  Since this is about the time that many people start to get a little sloppy with the plans they made, I’m going to drop a little reminder about your most important ally.

So who is your most important ally?  I’ll give you a hint.  It isn’t your workout buddy, your personal trainer, your nutritionist, or your family.  All of those can be great sources of help, but they aren’t the most important.

You see, we tend to forget that the person who talks to us most every day is the one we see when we look in the mirror.  That’s right.  You talk to yourself and we all know it because we all talk to ourselves too.

But do you listen to yourself?  Your subconscious is listening to every word you say and it takes it quite literally.  But do you consciously know what you’re telling yourself?

Your mind cannot tell the difference between something that is vividly imagined and something that is real.  (Maxwell Maltz demonstrated this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell_Maltz)  So if your trainer tells you what a great job you’re doing and you tell yourself that you cheated on your diet or skipped a workout this week and are a loser, who do you think has more impact?

When the trainer said it, a) you didn’t believe him/her, b) you felt guilty because that isn’t how you see yourself and you think they just don’t know you, c) you didn’t see, feel, or experience the success they congratulated you for.

When you said it, a) you believed it, b) it reaffirmed the current self-image you have of yourself, and c) you saw, felt and experienced your comments as reality.

I read through a lot of material in order to stay current with research and to see what approaches are working for other people.  Recently, I’ve been exploring Jon Benson’s work.   He said something I want to share because it might be one of the most powerful ways to stop that negative chatter.

For the next week, imagine that anything you say to yourself, you also have to say to the person you love the most.  Close your eyes and imagine yourself telling the love of your life that he or she is a loser, will never accomplish his or her goals, and should just quit.  Tell them it’s okay if they don’t keep their resolutions because they’re silly goals they’ve never kept before so they must not be important.  Tell them they don’t have to keep their promises because the person they made them to doesn’t matter.  See the look on their face, watch the emotions that flood over them, and see how you feel about being the cause of it.  Do it for a week—consistently seeing how the love of your life would react if you said to them the things you’re saying to yourself.  I’ll bet that by the end of the week your inner chatter has changed and that you understand just how important the words you say to yourself really are.

Think about why you made the resolutions you did, why they’re important to you, and why you must succeed at keeping them.  Look at the big picture.  Realize that you don’t have to be perfect to be successful…when something isn’t going right, take a moment to figure out how to change it.  What would you tell the love of your life?  Would you take the time to help them figure out how to overcome any temporary obstacles?  Change your chatter and prioritize yourself so that your most important ally really is your ally.

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