Conversations with myself

Conversations with myself

I believe that communication is the cornerstone of any healthy and functional relationship.  In relationships that I am not able to share openly and honestly or give and receive challenges to thoughts in an effective way, I truly don’t feel like I can be my whole authentic self.  This is also true in my relationship with me.


Communication in your relationship with yourself, what the heck does that mean?  Self-talk gets a lot of shine in the world of hashtags and positive affirmations, but I think it is so much more than that.  The way that we speak to ourselves in our own mind can set up how we experience the world and other people as well as our beliefs about ourselves.  I find that the hardest part about self-talk is that the thoughts that fly into my mind are so automatic that I must intentionally think something different.

Back up to this morning, when I was walking out to my car, headed to work.  Over my shoulder was my computer bag, hanging from my forearm was my purse, further down on my wrist was my lunch bag, in one hand was my water cup and in the other was 2 cell phones (yes, I have 2.  Also, yes, I feel like I am missing something when I do not have them in my hand.  I own it and I am working on it).  I fumbled with my keys as I approached my car, trying to unlock it and dropped them on the ground.  My thought?  “You idiot.”

What?  What exactly about that scenario makes me an idiot? Absolutely nothing.  Nothing about that makes me an idiot. In fact, I would argue that that scenario actually points to my tendency to literally hold on to too many things at once instead of trying to do one thing at a time.  Perhaps a better insult to myself this morning would have been “overachiever.”  But, nope.  I called myself an idiot because, in that moment, I had failed at my task of carrying my things to the car and if I failed, I must be an idiot, right?  NO.  But that is my automatic thought.  In that moment, I have to (and I did) choose to say to myself “woah, Jessica, you are not an idiot.  You were simply carrying too many things.  Pick up your keys and move on with your day.”

Self-talk is a choice to share openly and honestly in your relationship with yourself.  Self-talk is the choice to challenge thoughts and behaviors that are not working for you.  Self-talk is the choice to believe that just because you have a thought, does not make it true.

If you google “positive affirmations” you will find endless statements that are positive, and you will be encouraged to say those statements to yourself.  I think that this is a fabulous practice, with one exception…when you are in the beginning of trying to speak kindly to yourself you, quite often, do not believe this list of affirmations from the internet.  Looking at yourself in the mirror and reciting “You are good enough, you are nice enough and gosh darn it, people like you” (only people over a certain age are going to understand that reference) feels inauthentic because your automatic thoughts have been so different-and so ingrained.  How do you begin, then?  Try to start a little bit more simply and accept the following challenge.  Each day, wake up and say to yourself (while you are looking in the mirror should you feel so compelled) “today, I am going to notice when I do not feel like I am ____________” for me that blank is filled with the words “an idiot.”  Your blank may be different.  Once you can start to notice all of the times that you are not an idiot, it becomes so much easier to challenge that automatic thought.  For example, this morning my challenge could have been “’you are not an idiot, remember that your boss just gave you a new task?  She would not have done that if you were an idiot.”  Or “you are not an idiot, you can use this as a reminder that doing one thing at a time is more effective.”

Regardless of what your challenge is, I encourage you to do it.  Because here is reality, in my experience at least-those automatic thoughts usually are not true.  At least not all of the time.  Have I behaved like an idiot at some point in my life?  Perhaps. Do I deserve the title all of the time?  No way.  Who is responsible for telling me that?  Me.

With Gratitude, Jessica Brubaker

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