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How Self-Talk and Stress Levels Impact Your Relationship With Your Self – Mind and Body, 2 of 2

How we deal with what most stresses us shapes and is shaped by how we communicate, and ultimately the relationship between you, your mind and body.

In Part 1, we looked at how inner self-talk impacts the quality of communication between your mind and body, and how the subconscious relies on this interpretive inner dialogue to understand you, regarding the specifics of your life from day one to the present moment, as part of its job in optimally operating all the systems that come together to make you possible.

In this post, we consider how this inner stream of consciousness also impacts and is impacted by the direction and quality of the relationship you have with your self, mind and body, and arguably your life and relationships in general.

If how you talk to yourself inside decides whether your autonomic nervous system remains relatively calm or unnecessarily turns on your body’s survival system, that means you have a built-in capability to direct – or redirect – the overall state of your mind and body.

The power of interpretive thoughts and beliefs?

Your body, in the form of self-talk, makes subconscious decisions for you around the clock. This inner dialogue is a stream of consciousness that has an enormous effect on every aspect of your life and relationships.

Interpretive thoughts, in particular, form words and pictures that shape your imagination and, in turn, modulate your body’s emotion and physiology. When thought patterns are repeated, over time, they form emotional-command neural circuits that automatically direct what and how you think, talk and act, because … they bypass the frontal cortex of your brain.

It’s how your brain learns and adapts to change.

When this inner dialogue, however, consists of toxic thinking patterns and limiting beliefs that unnecessarily activate your survival system, literally, your body takes subconscious control of responses, thus, your capacity to make conscious choices. In survival mode, the body shuts off most all communication to the higher cortex and relies instead on ‘proven’ protective strategies it has stored in memory.

As occurs in relationships, ‘how’ you communicate with your self impacts how you consciously or subconsciously relate with every aspect of yourself, i.e., your thoughts, emotions, feelings, physiological sensations, and so on. Regardless how well-intentioned, in the same way that verbal attacks erode a relationship between two people, negative thoughts about your self or your attributes, etc., weaken the connection to your own inner resources by:

  • Activating survival response of the body to some degree.
  • Producing low-energy emotional states (fear-based)  that disturb your sense of safety and security inside.
  • Turning off the regular operations of the body’s systems (reserved for protective mode) and thus otherwise amazing inner resources.
  • Blocking optimal emotional states, such as hope, compassion and belief in yourself, which are essential to energize actions toward a more healthy, happy and fulfilled you!

It’s an ongoing process, and love-based emotional states produce entirely different outcomes from fear-based ones.

This means that, in some areas of your life, habitual responses may be shaping your life – rather than you.

Toxic patterns are limiting because they constrain, in varying degrees, what you believe is possible for you to achieve and who you are capable of becoming.

For example, the thought of stopping at a favorite place for a cup of coffee may not be cause for activating your survival response in most cases; however, what if you and a loved one had a heated argument at your favorite coffee shop the night before or last week? In this case, even though you’ve since made up, the thought may bring a rush of emotions that, in extreme cases, may lead you to (an unreasonable) decision to never go to this coffee shop again – ever! In other words, the mere thought of coffee can activate dynamic processes in your body that cause you to re-experience the event. Even worse, if you’ve decided to never go to that coffee shop again, it means your body is reacting with nearly the same physiological intensity and processes it would use as if you were facing a lion in the jungle!

If this were the case, you’d likely consider this a limiting or debilitating thinking pattern, right?

Though this may sound absurd, your body makes subconscious decisions like this all the time. Is there a particular food, situation, or person with certain traits you go out of your way to avoid? Does a part of you seem to resist your efforts to change a behavior?

The deciding factor? Your beliefs.

How’s the relationship between you, your mind and body?

The beliefs you hold to be true about a situation form powerful perception filters that, in varying degrees, either limit or increase your options, thus, they have the power to either harm or enrich how you relate to yourself and the world around you.

Subconscious patterns are connected to emotional command circuitry in the brain that literally dictates whether, as a person, you are free to be overall happy and fulfilled or unhappy and overstressed. Thoughts and the underlying beliefs that spawn them determine whether you live a relatively fulfilling life or fight a losing battle with stress and stressors.

Like most, you may not be conscious of many of your perceptions; they are the habitual way you explain life experiences to yourself in your mind and they are subconscious.

Your choices are being controlled by subconscious choices you made (or were made for you) in the past. Why subconscious?

First, they were recorded subconsciously. One of the reasons young children’s brain can quickly pick up a vast amount of information is that they have not yet formed ‘perception’ filters. Until children’s brains form selective perception filters, their subconscious allows the integration of a lot of unfiltered information. Once language is learned, the process is no longer passive. The subconscious mind can then turn off ‘learning mode,’ and go into the ‘protective mode’ as needed.

Second, a lot of potentially ‘good’ information is automatically ignored or rejected. Once the subconscious forms selective filters, a lot of healthy data goes undetected or gets automatically vetoed by these perception filters because of the selective, protective processes they activate. Of course, most or all of this occurs beneath the surface of awareness, subconsciously.

If your inner dialogue decides whether your mind and body remain relatively calm or get unnecessarily triggered, that means you have a built-in choice, a capability to decide how you will direct – or redirect – the communication between you and your body, and thus decide how you relate to your mind and body, all parts of you.

Whether you make use of this amazing capacity, however, once again depends on what you believe. If your believe you are the agent and choice maker of your life in charge of your happiness, you will create radically different results than if you believe you have the short end of the stick, and blame certain others for your unhappiness.

The most important decision you make in life may be whether you are the primary agent who decides your choices and responses, particularly, when it comes the matters of the heart. Do you wait for clues from others that you are loved, worthwhile, valuable, for example?

Who is in charge of your heart and happiness?

Your subconscious relies on your inner dialogue to understand you, regarding the specifics of your life from day one to the present moment, as part of its job in optimally operating all the systems that work together to make up the most amazing system of all: you!

Your responses or reactions say a lot about how you interpret events you experience in and around you. The belief systems you hold to be true form personal perception filters that automatically explain your experiences, and this rapid fire communication is going on at all time without your awareness as a function of your body’s natural orientation to learning.

Consciously or subconsciously, you are where you are in your life, for the most part, thanks to the thoughts you think on a consistent basis.

As occurs in relationships, how you communicate with your self inside enhances or reduces the relationship quality you have with all aspects of your physical, emotional and mental world.

Your internal dialogue or self-talk not only modulates the quality of communication between your mind and body, or conscious-self and subconscious-self, but also forms the basis for how you relate with yourself and inner (thus also outer…) world of sensations in your mind, consciously or subconsciously.

This can be good news. Conceivably it means your body (Nature?) expects you, at some point, to develop awareness of your built-in capacity to sort through and consciously, thoughtfully choose moment by moment how you use language to create optimal emotional states of mind and body in order to in turn create your best and healthiest you, life and future.

Perhaps the most important choice you make in life is whether (or not) you believe, feel and treat your self as the choice-maker and creative agent of your life.

To do so is a prerequisite to embarking on a journey that forms and maintains quality relationships with your self, all parts of you, mind and body – and life around. You deserve this (so does life around you).

How Self-Talk and Stress Levels Impact Your Relationship With Your Self – Mind and Body, 2 of 2

Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik motivates clients to break free of anxiety, emotion reactivity, and other addictive patterns, to awaken wholehearted relating to self and other. She is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik

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APA Reference
Staik, A. (2012). How Self-Talk and Stress Levels Impact Your Relationship With Your Self – Mind and Body, 2 of 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 3, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 Oct 2012
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