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Are You Really Listening to Your Self-Talk?

What did I just say to myself? I listened to the self-talk in my brain and realized the message is familiar to my childhood experience. My mother would often say, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” It’s remarkable how easily this self-talk can establish itself in our minds, limiting us if left unacknowledged and unchallenged.


What Did My Brain Just Say?

I have encountered many of these self-talk challenges in my coaching practice. Some common examples are something like, ‘I’m not good enough’, or, ‘You can’t trust people, they always let you down’. While they may seem innocent enough, the limiting beliefs they manifest can become detrimental to our progress and success in life.

This blog entry is about recognising some of those patterns; do we want to keep them, or learn to challenge and change them?

Human brains are sponges for learning and mimicking the other humans around us. Sometimes the humans around us may have modeled behaviors that we don’t necessarily want. Wherever we are in our lives, we can find elements of the people we grew up mimicking and learning from within us. They unknowingly pass these attributes on, sometimes through the way they use words. This can, in turn, become normalised unconsciously within us.

Children Inherit Caregiver’s Words in Their Self Talk

As children, there really is no choice for us to filter out the things we are learning. We observe and copy, or at least we attempt to copy what we see. It’s the same for many of our behaviors, languages, and sets of moral beliefs too. We grow up normalising all of this and it becomes second nature to us and something we rarely, if ever, question.

When we do reach adulthood, we have acquired so many ‘normals’, that tracking where the ‘normal’ self-talk originated from becomes impossible and, in many cases, it doesn’t even matter. There’s value in discovering the impact of our own free will. The variables that make us individuated and responsible for our own cognition. Sometimes it’s useful to identify what was influenced by others and what was chosen.

During coaching sessions, my clients and I often discover interesting beliefs they hold, such as “Money doesn’t grow on trees” or “It’s a wild world out there.” Through further exploration, we often find that these beliefs stem from past influences or memories. Once clients identify the source of these beliefs, they often question why they hold them and become motivated and curious to learn more about how these beliefs have affected their lives.

We Need Reasons To Alter Our Self Talk

This is the motivational fuel required to change.  It fuels bringing about new, success-sustaining beliefs. New beliefs will drive better, chosen actions and therefore better life outcomes.

We have an estimated 40 to 60 thousand thoughts in a day, so getting a feel for which ones we should target as problematic can be a challenge. It is very easy for us to move forward and project a future based on our past patterns. This is because the thoughts and beliefs which are hardwired into us want us to afford as little effort as possible.

As a result, many of us produce many outcomes based on the default patterns that we always had. This is why we find many challenges in life difficult to overcome. The same thinking always gets us the same result that we have always had.


How to Have More Choices?

When we become aware of problematic thinking/self-talk, our choices grow. We form patterns around that which we recognise doesn’t allow us to create the future we want. We have a choice to think about what sort of self-talk would better serve us to achieve the outcome we want. Then, the exciting part begins where we get to practice the new thinking within ourselves. It opens up an internal debate.

John Stuart Mill talked about debate and debating being the way to achieve the truth. I think that for us, we need to have rigorous debates with ourselves so that we can come to conclusions about our values, beliefs, preferences, wants, and impressions and consider if what is being proposed is in our best interests. Ultimately this is the central goal of being interested in self-knowledge and working towards a better relationship with ourselves.

We Have To Rewire Our Brains!

Cells that fire together, wire together. To create a new default thought about money, your abilities, or your character requires us to provide evidence to ourselves that there is another way. The evidence in our lives may have led us to harden the idea, ‘the world is dangerous’ or ‘people cannot be trusted’. The remedy is to debate and challenge these issues when we identify them within ourselves.

Searching out new opportunities to challenge these assumptions is required for us to accept the new ‘normals’ which will eventually lead us to have better life outcomes. A wonderful tool and model to use can be found in the diagram below; you can see that our thoughts lead us to the feelings or emotions that we experience. Our feelings lead us to behave in the way we do and the behaviors we implement in life are going to result in us having the life outcomes that we achieve or in many cases fail to achieve.

Get Serious About Your Self Talk

Start to consider what are the behaviors you need to practice to achieve your favored outcomes. Then you can consider the feelings you need to practice to get you to behave in the way you want. From that point, you can think about the thoughts that will create those feeling states that you want to experience.

This is the key to achieving what you want in your life. It’s not difficult to understand. The challenge is committing to a practice that enables you to create new thoughts to override the old ones.

The good news is that being aware of our inner dialogue can serve two purposes. Firstly, it allows us to become conscious of what we are saying to ourselves. Secondly, it enables us to choose and practice positive thoughts that can replace the hindering thoughts that are likely keeping us from achieving the desired outcomes in our lives.

Without practice and a commitment to a new set of beliefs, we struggle to achieve what we want. It is worth the effort. You can quickly build momentum towards your goals.

Get to work listening to what you are saying to yourself!

I love hearing from you guys and answering your nuanced questions.

I am a Freedom Coach and Mentor – I help freedom-loving people in their early/mid-career create a Successful Mindset. If you would like to explore some of these themes and move towards achieving more freedom this year, let’s connect and set up a call.

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