As we approach the Bank Holiday weekend where you may be able to grab a little (more) me time, I thought it might be a good time to stop and think about something that doesn’t make the daily agenda for most people – how you speak to yourself, and what goes on in your brain.
Now, we all speak to ourselves all the time, right? Mostly in our heads – although some people do mumble to themselves as they walk around – or is that just me?
And in amongst all the ‘instructions’ are some deeply powerful ‘instructions’ that you may not even be aware of.
So, here’s how the typical morning might go in terms of talking to yourself.
“Oh goodness what time is it? Groan, time to get up or maybe Yay – another hour in bed! Right – where did I leave my phone/underwear/top I wanted to wear today. Why is there no toothpaste in the bathroom cupboard? Must put some on the Tesco list. Who ate the last piece of bread? Now what am I having for breakfast? OK get the kettle on. Check the To Do List/Diary/online calendar. Oh god, I forgot I had that meeting at 10 – shit! I’m going to be pushed for time today. For God’s sake (insert your name here) why are you so bad at life?! And what is going to happen at that meeting? I hope they are nice. What if they think we are too expensive? What if they don’t like what we are offering? What if…….”
All of this self-talk kind of happens without you being consciously aware of it. And therein lies the problem. I know, I’ve gone all Shakespearean. But here’s the thing. The self-talk which happens on autopilot is very very powerful.
Let’s have a look at the obvious ‘instructions’ in the above self-talk. There is ‘get up’, or ‘another hour in bed’, ‘put toothpaste on the Tesco list’, ‘put the kettle on’, ‘check To Do list’.
And now let’s look at the embedded instructions that you are not consciously aware of.
- No Toothpaste
- Be pushed for time
- You’re feeling bad at life
- You are too expensive
- They won’t like your offer
With self-talk like that going on it’s a wonder you ever achieve anything, right? You’re amazingly overcoming the odds you are setting yourself, but how much more could you achieve if your self-talk changed?
Your brain does not recognise the word ‘don’t’.
So when you say things like “Don’t f**k this up”, the brain hears “F** this up”. ‘Don’t put on weight’, becomes, ‘put on weight.’ Or ‘don’t break your diet’ becomes ‘break your diet’. And so on.
Focus on what you want not what you don’t want. And focusing with the question HOW is very powerful. Rather than – “I can’t afford to go to Bali on holiday/buy a new car/have a cleaner” ask the question “How can I afford it”. The brain then knows that is what you want and will try and find solutions to make that happen.
After all – your brain’s job is to find you what it thinks you want so make sure you are focusing on the right things – which means your self-talk needs to become more conscious, and change.
Every time you hear yourself talking in your head – listen! Listen to what you are saying and if it is not helpful, then reframe what you said. Like anything else this becomes a habit if you are consistent.
You might be thinking this is just a load of woo-woo, but you would be wrong.
If I put you in an fMRI scanner (takes pictures of your brain) and flashed up the word “No” even for a second – you would see a flood – a release of stress hormones. These hormones affect the proper functioning of your brain – they interrupt logic, reason, language and communication.
Our cave man bodies were programmed to pay more attention to the negative than the positive, probably because there were so many potential threats to life and limb.
Negative thinking affects the brain and the listener.
Worrying about your finances or health (or anything) stimulates the release of destructive neuro chemicals in adults and in children. The answer is thinking positively. And it’s something that is urgently needed, because negative thinking is self-perpetuating. The more you engage in negative dialogue – with others or with yourself, the more difficult it becomes to stop.
And negative words spoken with anger are even more damaging, they raise the alarm centres in the brain which interferes with decision making in the frontal lobe and increases someone’s potential to act irrationally. As they say – the red mist descends.
There is a problem with positive thinking.
As mentioned above, the brain doesn’t ‘hear’ positive words as clearly as it hears negative. Barbera Fredrickson, a founder of the publication Positive Psychology, discovered that you need to generate 3-5 positive thoughts for each negative. The same has been found in corporate teams (Marcial Losada’s research) and with married couples (John Gottman’s research).
Positive words and thoughts get the brain into action and help build resilience in problem solving.
Listening to yourself, and consciously changing your self-talk language to the positive, is a habit well worth the effort of acquiring.
PS – The genetic blueprint really helps with understanding who you are and what you are here to do – fill in this 2-minute questionnaire and I will send you your own ‘genetic blueprint’ which will help you understand yourself so you can begin to find your why! You will find it here.
PPS – If the link doesn’t work for any reason (sometimes technology has a bad day) then email me on email@example.com and I will sort it out for you!
PPS – If you liked this blog and want to read more blogs surrounding female empowerment, you can find last week’s here: ‘When The Going Gets Tough‘
“I’m on a global mission to help 10 million disheartened souls, who are at a crossroads, to STOP asking why me? And START saying why not me!”