Most people I know struggle with their inner dialog or self-talk. What you may not realize is how important self-talk is to your health.
Many people suffer with some form of self-doubt. They wonder if they’re really enough. A man wonders if he’s competent enough. A woman wonders if she’s attractive enough.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false” alt=”Self-Talk”]Image from Dollar Photo Club Created in Canva[/featured-image]
For men, the question is more external. A man says to himself: “Can I come through when it really matters? Will people approve of what I’ve done? Will I be recognized for my accomplishments or acknowledged for my competence?”
For women, it’s more internal. A woman wonders: “Am I beautiful? Will anyone notice me? “Will anyone pursue me? Am I worth pursuing?”
For those of us pursuing vibrant health and abundant life, we must answer these questions in a positive fashion.
Our beliefs tend to influence our reality. Ask any sports performance coach. A superstar athlete has to believe he can win, before he becomes a champion. What we say to ourselves, in our minds can powerfully affect our health.
The bible tells us that “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) Zig Ziglar, arguably the most influential, motivational speaker of the 20th century, was a master with words. He said, that the words we say to ourselves are far more important than anything he could ever say to us.
In terms of maximizing our health potential, he was spot on right. Our self-talk is critically important to our health. We must want to be well. We must believe we can be well. We must believe we deserve to be well. See my post The Three Most Important Questions For Health. These thoughts are all centered around our self-image.
So, what about your self-talk? Do you ever say things such as: I’m just a wave tossed in the ocean; or, I’m such a looser; or, I’m so stupid; or I’m such an idiot? I know I have, plenty of times.
For our health’s sake, we’ve got to stop this self sabotaging, inner-dialog. Just because we failed at something, doesn’t make us failures.
Maybe you’ve had your self-image drilled into you from a young age. Many parents say things to their children that have unintended consequences. A high percentage of prison inmates were told by their parents that one day they’d end up in jail, and that’s exactly what happened.
Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God. The second is like it: to love others as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:37-40) The part that often gets overlooked, is the part where he says to love ourselves.
There’s an awful lot of self-loathing going on today. Sometimes people speak it out loud. Perhaps more frequently, it’s spoken in silence, with our self-talk or inner-dialog. Either way, it’s counterproductive to our health.
Our brains and bodies truly do believe every word we say. Our minds send instructions to our brains. And, as most know, the brain, through the autonomic nervous system, is the control center for the body.
If we constantly think self-loathing thoughts, what’s the body supposed to do with that? Many people need to turn this around.
Dr David Hamilton in his book I Heart Myself, suggests that people can fit into one of three categories when it comes to self-image or self-talk.
The first group, by far the largest, is where most people are. They have one prevailing thought. “Am I enough?” These people are plagued by self doubt and a critical spirit.
What other people think about them, becomes overly important. They wonder if they’ll ever measure up. Many over achievers fall into this category. Since they doubt their worth, they’re driven to achieve, in order to help placate their doubts.
The next group says: “I’ve had enough.” These people are tired of wondering what people think about them. They tend to be self-centered and isolated, the “Lone Ranger” type. Rather than giving in to others expectation, they ignore them.
This stage is often accompanied by a great deal of emotion. Although still unhealthy, this is a better place to be than in the “Am I enough” stage, because it is a position of empowerment.
The third stage says Hamilton is “I am enough”. Here someone can start to love themselves well, neither giving in to people pleasing or self-centeredness.
Hamilton’s model does explain a lot. However, it comes up short. What’s missing from his model is the source of our true identity. We can’t define our own worth. If we do, we’ll be subject to all kinds of distortions.
Commercialism and the world have plenty of suggestions for us. Big corporations play off of our desire to be somebody. They tell us that if we buy their car, or their house, or their jewelry then, we’ll be somebody.
Or how about these: when you get that job, or live in a certain neighborhood, or marry the trophy wife, then we’ll be somebody. Our worth is not defined by the size of our bank accounts or job titles, or even our achievements.
Next week, I’ll go over my recommendations for moving from a destructive inner-dialog to a more productive one. The key is understanding who we are.
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