How to Have More Rewarding Conversations with Yourself
By Janet Joyce
A good friend of mine moved into a new home and invited some people over to celebrate. While standing at the buffet table deciding between the crab-stuffed mushroom caps and the garlic-mozzarella balls, I ran into someone who I hadn’t seen in quite some time. We struck up a conversation, filling in the gaps of what had happened in our lives since we last met.
While listening to her side of the exchange I noticed the negative quality of practically everything she said. She berated her neighbors, spoke poorly of our host, and complained that her job and even her children were not up to snuff. She also criticized herself. The more she spoke the less I wanted to hear until I eventually wanted out of the conversation.
Because no one else was close by it took a few minutes to artfully remove myself from the conversation. During that time I started thinking about what it would be like to have to listen this negative banter all the time–or worse, to have it going in inside your own head. Then there would be no escape.
If you’ve ever held yourself prisoner to this type of internal negative talk, then you know that while there are times in life to be a good listener, this is not one of them. If you frequently criticize yourself with negative evaluations of your behavior, cooking, parenting or other abilities then you need an internal conversation tune-up.
The Art of Self-Appreciation
What would you do if you had a friend who made frequent derogatory remarks about you or others? Would you put up with it or would you tell them to stop? If they didn’t stop, would you discontinue being friends with that person? I hope the answer is yes because you deserve better than that.
Let’s take it as a given that every person deserves to be spoken to respectfully and with honor courtesy and concern. We all want and need friends in our lives who we can count on to be supportive of our needs and take care with our feelings. Once you agree that this is what you desire and deserve from others, then it’s no stretch to understand that you need this same thing from yourself as well. Anything less would be the same as tolerating a friend who treats you badly.
Of course, it is one thing to stop being friends with someone else, while it is quite another to start being friends with yourself.
How to Be Your Own Best Friend
Making friends with yourself can take just as long it does to become friends with someone else. Sometimes you’ll click right away. Other times the friendship needs to grow over time. Either way, here are three tips to help you to engage in more spiritually and personally rewarding internal conversations.
Many people have some form of negative their internal dialogue going on. There’s nothing particularly unusual about that, but if it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself you can create new rules for conversing with yourself.
1. The first thing to do is to remind yourself that in the privacy of your own mind you are always among friends. If someone isn’t playing nice in the sandbox, you can send them home and invite someone else instead.
If you find yourself stuck in a chain of negative thoughts, close your eyes and take a moment to think of at least three things about yourself that you truly appreciate and enjoy. You may be able to come up with more than that, but just focus on a few of the positive qualities that you value and take pleasure from. Spend a few moments focusing on what is unique or special about these positive qualities and why you find them worthwhile. Once they get settled in, there will be less room for the unruly thoughts to return.
2. Another tip is to think of your internal voices as if they are members of the board of directors of your mind. They may have a say, but you are the one in charge. You may listen to their various opinions and but it’s up to you to decide what to do. So when a negative internal voice speaks up with an opinion it’s your job to consider what it is saying, ignore it, or disagree with it.
In fact, you can actually speak to that voice inside your head and disagree with the negative assessment, saying something like “That’s enough. I’m making my best effort here and I can see it’s having positive results.” Or something similar.
3. Finally, you can imagine what your ideal best friend would be like. This is someone you can always count on to be there for you, who will challenge you in respectful ways to strive to be your best, and who will forever be supportive, nurturing and loving toward you.
Remember throughout your life you are the only one there for you every single moment. From the beginning of this journey until your last moments, you are the only one who will always be by your side. If you behave toward yourself with the qualities you expect from your very best friend, then you’ll never find yourself in a situation of frantically looking around for someone to help you escape from the negative conversations inside your own internal party.
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