Self-Talk and Your Habits
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
To start with the obvious, our habits are HABITUAL. We engage in them, at least to some degree, unconsciously. So what do you think is driving our behaviors if not our conscious mind? I find in myself and my patients that often it's our subconscious beliefs and programming doing the work - the work of trying to fill the void, scratch the itch, or silence whatever uncomfortable sensation is coming up.
To heal the behavior is to rewire this programming in one way or another. This is not an easy task of course. It can take some real investigative work, and a lot of self-kindness and compassion. In the process of healing the behavior you’ll be shining a light on the pieces of you that have been left in the dark for a really long time, either intentionally or accidentally.
It’s best to have a companion to do this work with. You know who would make a really great one? You!
The quality of the conversation you have with yourself is one of the most important aspects of your health. It is more important than changing any particular habit, because it is the way in which you can change all of your habits.
Hear me out …
You are super smart. You know just which habits are causing you the most suffering, but you just can’t seem to change them. If you could change then you would, right? But you keep sabotaging yourself, acting against your own best interest, ignoring your pleas to change, and denying your heart’s truest calling. This can feel hopeless, but I implore you not to give up.
We’re all a little schizophrenic in that we all hear voices! Come on, be honest, it gets a little nutty up there doesn’t it? Don’t worry, it’s normal. I am legitimately shocked by some of the thoughts that fly through my head, so you’re in good company. Let’s focus on two voices here – the voice of you the healer and the voice of you the wounded.
These are two voices that you are already hearing to some extent, though you may not have paid them much mind. I want to convince you that it’s important to invest some energy in developing these voices. It’s kinda like learning to be your own therapist. But you’re free! And often more effective.
These voices are both you, conscious you, speaking from different perspectives.
Examples are best, so here’s a real life one from earlier today. Stress eating is a habit I’m currently healing. So today I was working on a project and feeling the weight of my too long to do list, when I suddenly found myself standing in front of the pantry reaching for a bag of dates. The conversation went something like this:
Healer (H): Hey! Wait a minute, are you hungry?
Wounded (W): Nope. Shut up.
H: What are you doing?
W: Shut up this will make me feel better I need a quick fix!
H: Oh you poor thing we’ve done this before, it doesn’t last. What doesn’t feel good? (with true compassion for the part of me that feels they NEED this snack.)
W: It feels like chaos inside.
H: It’s OK, this is what we’re working to heal. I’m with you no matter what, I love you and I am healing you. (place my hand on heart, be with the chaos, breathe kindness)
W: (at this moment I do whatever I need - breathe, hug myself, scream, punch the air, or eat the damn date.)
“I love you and I am healing you”.
This is a good one for me lately.
If this sounds cheesy, then it’s probably not true for you! That’s OK. Don’t ditch the idea because you don’t like my words. You have your own words that are more true, find them. By developing these aspects of ourselves, the healer and the wounded, we can learn how to be with ourselves in the tough times. If we can be with ourselves when it’s hard, then we don’t have to escape. If we don’t have to escape, then we don’t need the coping mechanisms that we’ve become dependent on or addicted to. FREEEEEEDDDDOOOMMM!
1. OWN that you have a light and a dark side. You are wounded and you are a healer, just like the rest of us. Don’t be afraid, we are all in this together.
2. Seek out a confidant to share your experience with. Pick a trusted friend, a therapist, or join one of my groups!
3. Journal how you imagine a healing conversation within yourself might go. It’s much easier to practice this skill when you’re feeling strong and stable then when you’re triggered and want to use your go-to coping mechanisms.
4. Don’t overthink it and don’t give up. This work is not easy, but it is simple and it will come naturally to you if you keep at it. I promise.
5. Don’t say things you don’t mean! Always be honest, but keep the door open for change. For example, when you look in the mirror:
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I really do believe in you, and want to support you in this difficult work. Keep fighting the good fight!