I get so many questions from recovering people about how to replace the mean voices inside their heads with something kinder.
For many years I didn’t know how to answer this question. This, of course, was because the voices inside my own head were still quite mean.
Today, the voices in my head have gotten much kinder. Unfortunately, this does not mean I am any closer to answering those who ask me how it is done.
What I can say is – when the shift occurs, you will KNOW it.
Although, truthfully, you might not know it all at once – for me, significant changes like this often “sneak up” on me – like they are afraid I will run them off if they just show up with too little advance warning.
So I will never be one of those people you want to ask, “So what was the exact, precise, on-the-second moment when you knew such-and-so had changed?”
But I will tell you HOW I changed the positive self-talk in my head, and how you can know your own efforts are starting to work.
In my last post, I reviewed the three types of effort to make if you want to achieve your goals. The second goal was preparing your mind to support you.
This is the hardest type of effort to make, in my opinion. I say this because my mind likes to fight me – it tends to prefer opposition to agreement, finding it both stimulating and motivational. Unfortunately.
So the bulk of the effort you will make – at least if you are anything like me – is likely going to be in getting your mind to come around to your way of thinking. Here, your way of thinking will be that kind inner voices are more motivational and energizing than mean voices.
To get your mind to begin to agree with you, you have to show it examples….over and over and over again.
For instance, every time my mind would say to me, “You are lazy and unmotivated and will never succeed in your career,” I would listen politely and then counter with, “I am focused and intelligent and I have already achieved much in my career – and I am achieving more right now.”
My mind would then counter by repeating its opinion. I would then counter-counter by repeating my opinion. And so we would go, back and forth, until my mind got tired of repeating itself and let the matter drop (sometimes this would take a long time).
Another example – suppose my mind would say to me, as it has often liked to do, “You will be alone forever – no one will ever want to be your partner.” I would then reply to it, “I have already known much love in my life – I have been in love and have been loved – and when the time is right, the right partner will appear.”
I am still in the process of training my mind to be kind in this particularly sore spot subject, by the way.
One big issue that my mind gets really stuck on is the question of whether I am okay just the way I am, or if I am too weird or abnormal or mutated to ever be happy in life. I don’t know why my mind gets so up in arms about this topic, but it is just convinced there is something “wrong” with me. So here, I often have to go round 100 with it, responding with, “I am perfectly okay just the way I am – there is NOTHING WRONG with me.”
The other day, I was just waking up and my mind started in on this topic yet again. I heard myself sleepily respond to it by saying, “I am perfectly fine. I am okay exactly the way that I am.”
And then….silence. As in, my mind DID NOT RESPOND.
So for some issues, it might take just a few debates with your mind before it drops its insistence on being right and sees the matter from your perspective. For other issues, it might take weeks, or months, or even years (witness my “partnership dialogue” here).
But then that wonderful, magical, life-changing moment will come when your mind sallies forth with an argument and after just one round or a few, it lets you win.
There is no feeling so good, so wondrous, so KIND, in the world, as this moment.
Today’s Takeaway: Do you notice that certain longstanding disagreements you used to have with your mind are now greatly diminished or gone? Are there other areas where your mind can still drag you down or discourage you in no time at all? If so, perhaps your willingness to persistently talk back – with kindness – to your angry, judging mind will help you the way it is slowly but surely helping me!
Hearing voices image available from Shutterstock.