How you speak to yourself dictates your experience of everything. It is your narrator. If you imagine yourself in a movie, walking down the street, the tone of the story will be a lot different if the narrator is saying ‘on a beautiful morning, Lana walks to work while enjoying the crisp fall air’ versus, ‘Lana is an idiot for that text message she sent last night and didn’t sleep because she’s worried Jesse will never speak to her again’. Again, I’m joking here, but only marginally.
The narrator provides context- it is your interpretor, it generates certain emotions by word choice and phrasing. What you say, how you add meaning, the stories you make up about what Jesse is thinking – all contribute to how you experience your world. For example, if Jesse doesn’t respond you can 1) assume he is busy and will get back to you when he has a chance, or 2) decide he hates you and you’ve ruined the friendship (also, you’re pretty sure he was the one and now you will die alone!!!) These two narrations result in vastly different experiences, emotions and frankly, pain. It changes how you approach your day. It changes how you approach the concept of love and its availablity to you. That one dialogue has many ripples.
How you speak to yourself and the perspective you adopt is your own internal language. And choosing to change it can be like learning a new language.
Things sound wrong, you struggle to find the right word, you forget how to say things. It takes a great deal of mental effort and conscious thought. It is so much easier just to speak in your native language, especially when there are tons of native speakers around.
All of this applies when moving from a language of self criticism to one of self love. How does one do that whole gratitute thing? How do I stop ‘ruminating’ and isn’t it valuable sometimes? What if it’s true that I made a huge mistake? Shouldn’t I hold myself accountable?
Its a lot to navigate!
So here are a few recommendations to support you in learning this new language:
- Don’t expect to be fluent. Its ok not to know. Its ok to mess up. Trial and error is how you learn. The biggest test of this new language is this- does it make you feel loved?
- Become immersed. Support yourself by listening to podcasts, audiobooks, reading books, and being around people who use the language of self love and positivity. This will not only teach you how to speak kindly and with inspiration, but it will immediately show you the difference in feeling that this kind of language can make. It is amazing how even a 5-minute podcast first thing can remind you of the power of positive language. Immersion is the concept of being completely surrounded with the new language- this will to help yourself learn faster. This is an especially valuable recommendation if the people in your life speak a negative and self-critical language.
- Find your teachers. A part of becoming immersed is finding those teachers who speak to you and say things in a way you can understand. I’ve included a list who have assisted me below. More on this in future posts.
- Becoming your own Parent. For co-dependency, we learn to become our own parent as a means to balance discipline with love. I appreciate that you might not have a good example of how to parent. But I’m sure you have a sense of what you would have liked. Further, you can find supports from teachers and scholars much like for the immersion. For myself, I have been sick for nearly 6 months. I am learning to speak to myself like a parent in this situation. I ask myself how I am feeling. I show myself sympathy and love. However, I have to do this consciously. I have to put on my ‘parent’ hat and think how a good and loving parent would speak to Alison. Bonus? I think this will help me to become a better parent when the time comes, because I am the recipient of my own parenting.
As always, be kind and patient with yourself. Any movement is to be celebrated. Finally, if there is one thing you change, let it be this. Because you are so incredibly deserving of love, especially from yourself.
Recommended sources: Tony Robbins Breakthrough App, The Joy Junkie or Marie Forleo podcast, Insight Timer meditation app. Meditation albums by Gabrielle Bernstein. Books or audiobooks by Brene Brown, Gabrielle Bernstein, Tony Robbins. HIP Sobriety programs. Yoga with Adriene on YouTube.
Note: It did take me a while to deal with both Gabrielle Bernstein and Tony Robbins. They were like happy language with an accent! Early in my learning, I just could not connect with them. I found Brene Brown and the Joy Junkie the most accessible.