Have you ever stopped and observed the messages you are constantly telling yourself? Are you aware of all the chatter racing around in your head? For most of us this ongoing chatter is not conscious, not in our regular awareness. And yet at some level you are probably aware of it, as this chatter can make relaxation, meditation, and sometimes even falling asleep very difficult.
Sometimes the chatter is practical in nature: “I need to remember to buy milk.” “Don’t forget about your appointment today.” “Did I remember to lock the door?” However, it can also be full of self-examination and self-criticism: “Why did I say that? They’ll think I’m so stupid.” “I’ll never be as good as so-and-so.” “Nobody ever understands what I’m trying to say. I might as well just give up.”
It’s good practice to pay attention to the content of your inner messages. Are your messages positive and supportive – helping you to succeed, giving you positive support and encouragement? Or do your inner voices tend to be negative and undermining – preventing you from doing the things you want to do, putting you down, or criticizing you.
One goal of the healing journey is to shift from a place of self-criticism and self-sabotage into an ability to have compassion for yourself and to support yourself. If you can learn to believe in yourself and be gentle with yourself, you will be more open to learn and to grow. You will also be more able to take risks and be creative.
How do you change the inner messages?
1. The first step to healthy change of your inner messages is awareness. Take time to notice what those messages are telling you and how you feel afterwards. Become aware of the impact of the messages: how do your messages affect you emotionally? How do they affect you physically? What impact do they have on your energy – do you feel tired and depleted afterwards, or do you feel recharged and inspired?
2. Can you make a commitment to yourself to shift to more positive, supportive messages? Find messages that build your self-esteem, help you to trust yourself more fully, and encourage you to be compassionate with yourself. Some examples of positive messages (affirmations) are the following:
- I can do it.
- I am grateful to life for all that I have received and for all that I will receive.
- I am a unique and special person and am worthy of the respect of others.
- I am free to make my own choices and decisions.
Positive messages to yourself can make a difference in your day-to-day happiness, as well as helping you to achieve the things you want in life.
3. Practice, practice, practice. Once you have found some positive messages that you are going to use, consciously repeat these messages at least 20 times a day, preferably out loud. Just like anything else, if you have not “used that muscle,” if you are not in the habit of being positive with yourself, it will feel very awkward and challenging at first. It can feel strange, fake, unnatural, belaboured, or dishonest. It is very normal to encounter resistance and scepticism. However, if you understand the importance of persisting, you will see progress.
The more you practice positive, supportive inner messages, the easier it will get – until one day it will seem totally natural to you. You will notice yourself being gentle, being encouraging, telling yourself that you can do it, and reassuring yourself.
As your positive and healthy inner messages grow, you may notice times of inner peace, the ability to slow down and take it easy, and greater acceptance of yourself and others. You are creating a healthy foundation on which to build healthy relationships and a sense of purpose and happiness.
I can see stressful situations as challenges.
I can choose a positive frame of mind.
I can handle whatever comes.
Today has limitless possibilities.
I can find balance in my life.
I can find love and support.
I can handle whatever comes.
I can create inner peace.
I am strong.This too shall pass.
Stress is leaving my body.
Today I choose joy.
I can make healthy choices.
I am doing my best.
Today my intention is for peace.
I am in charge of my life.
I have many options.
I can create positive change.
I am wise.
My happiness comes from within.
I can start healthy habits.
I can stay calm under pressure.
I choose happiness.
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. ~John Lubbock