The Power of Your Internal Dialogue

Kait by ATP

The current pandemic may have already had a tangible impact on your life: loss of income, loss of a loved one, or isolation that’s opening old wounds. You may also feel that on the surface this isn’t so bad, quickly qieting sad feelings because so many ‘have it worse.’ Regardless of where on that scale you fall, it’s important to continually check in on your emotions and more than ever respond with self care and compassion.

The inability to move at lightening speed can force us to sit with uncomfortable feelings that we are normally distracted from. It could also show you how closely you tie productivity to self worth. Even if you’ve gracefully moved into isolation, and are more productive than ever, check in with your internal dialogue and “should” statements (“I should be working out more”). I’m not suggesting you need to be less productive or stop taking advantage of this time. I’m simply suggesting you take a look at the way you talk yourself; your inner dialogue. If the inability to be so busy has been challenging, try to sit with that. Try to understand why that is. If you’ve managed to stay moving, try to figure out how you’ve been able to do it; specifically: what did you say to yourself to motivate? Shifting the pressured or judgmental thoughts and replacing the shoulds with wants is incredibly empowering. It is a practice that can reshape how you experience life.

I believe subconsciously we are scared that if we stop judging, guilting, and bashing we we will lose motivation to accomplish. I’ve found the opposite is true; when I am kind to myself, when I take the pressure off, my creativity expands. I take important action anyway; I never needed that nagging voice.

It’s possible you’re completely unaware of your inner dialogue. It’s also possible you’re aware that it’s unkind but don’t know how to change it. This practice is about catching automatic thoughts, and immediately rewriting them. At first, it will feel forced or annoyingly positive. But over time, after repeating this practice with constant dedication, your thoughts will habitually become more positive. Here are a few examples; the first part is the automatic thought, the second is an example of how to shift it:

I’m eating so much junk during quarantine, I’m going to gain so much weight —> using food as comfort is normal and human. I also know I want to take care of my body. What’s one nutritious food I can add to my plate today?

Other moms have such detailed and fun home school schedules, I’m failing —> I know my family, what we can handle, and what we need at this time. I’m doing my best and all that matters right now is keeping my family safe and sane.

I should really be working out twice a day with all of the extra time I have —> what is one enjoyable way I could move my body today, even just for five minutes?

Turns out I didn’t lack time, I lacked motivation to get X, Y, Z done —> I’m feeling emotionally drained, overwhelmed, and sad right now. Starting a new project, even though I have the time feels too hard and thats okay.

I shouldn’t watch so much TV —> watching TV helps me shut off my brain and right now I need that. Today, I’ll try 5 minutes of breath work or meditation before putting on my favorite show.

The point of all of this is that you’re allowed to be insanely productive. You’re allowed to be a bum on the couch all day. Just be kind to yourself regardless of which direction you go. You do not have to take a certain action to earn kindness. Treat your internal dialogue as if it’s a friend talking to another friend; are they being kind? The way you speak to yourself should live up to the same standards you’d have for a loved one. If you aren’t meeting those standards, it’s time to confront that voice. Ideally, as you challenge and change your internal dialogue, you will naturally find more joy and clarity in your days.

Are you aware of your internal dialogue? Have you actively tried to rewrite it?