We have spent over two weeks in confinement and only God knows how long this situation will continue. We all know it, things will get worse before they get any better. Yes, it is scary; fear and panic are not just in Spain, but the entire world. However how we respond to these uncertain times will define our results. How is this situation affecting you? How are you letting this situation affect your life?
If you are feeling overly stressed, anxious or even petrified of what lies ahead, most likely you have become a prisoner of your own inner voice.
It has been said that in our heads we have a dialogue, our internal dialogue. Often, it’s not actually a dialogue – a two-way discussion – it’s a voice giving us a message, which frecuently we listen to and believe or act on without questioning. This inner voice is part of our natural defence mechanism and is very powerful – it has a great impact in our lives. It affects the decisions we make, how we interact with the world and how we view ourselves. But it can also harm our relations or our health to the point that can drive us to depression or heightened anxiety and in the worst cases leading people to commit suicide.
It is estimated that a normal person, spends up to 16 hours a day in ‘self-talk’, and 80% of this internal dialogue is negative! Just imagine, you have a dear friend that you love and respect and lives with you, he or she is constantly criticising you, telling you are a failure, that you are not going to make it after this corona virus crisis etc. I am pretty sure you would have ended the friendship a long time ago. So why is it that we allow our inner voice, a nagging voice, who is a bit of a bully, to attack us continuously? Well, there are many reasons, but the most important is that unconsciously we know our inner voice has the best intentions to protect us. This is a product of our fight-or-flight (acute stress) response inherent in most animals, including humans.
Learning how to manage our inner voice is paramount in today’s situation. To manage and change your internal dialogue, here are my recommendations:
- Always, be aware of your thoughts. Often, we don’t even notice them or worst we don’t give them the importance they deserve. If it’s a negative voice, which it often is, you should first and foremost acknowledge the positive intention. If you do not, the negative message will be coming back to you until it feels heard… a little bit like when kids want something and they don’t get any response, they will increase their volume and frequency of asking until they feel heard.
After acknowledging, question if this message is helping you? If the answer is “no”, catch the thought and with a gentle but firm voice ask it to go.
Before you go to bed, take a minute or two to reflect on the kind of thoughts that crossed your mind during the day. If possible, make a note to release it from your conscious. Here it is important to notice which thoughts and phrases you recite often. Also, where are these messages coming from? Is it really your voice, or might it be somebody else saying it?
- Transform your negative message into something that empowers you, and makes you feel good. For example, let’s say that you are getting stressed about your job due to the current situation, you may change this thought to when you were in a similar situation and how you came out of it then – the positive outcome and how it was achieved.
- Repeat. Think about it, if you have been telling yourself negative messages for a while, deleting them from your head is not going to happen overnight. After you transform your message into a positive one, you will need to repeat this new, positive message until you believe it.
In a nutshell it is essential that we manage our inner voice to avoid it intimidating us.
- Think about what you are telling yourself during the day
- Reflect if is useful or not, and if it’s not, reject the thought with appreciation
- Transform the negative message into a positive and empowering one
- Recite the new message as often as possible until it becomes part of your new dialogue.
We are all in this together. Whatever you tell yourself can make a big difference, not only in your life, but in the world around you and the people you interact with. Happiness and success in everything you do depends of the quality of your internal dialogue and it’s up to you what you let your inner voice tell you. 😊