Do you repeatedly say these—or similar—things to yourself? If you are like most people, you do…more often than you’d like to admit.
Maybe you occasionally make these statements aloud, but most of the time, you probably hear a continuous stream of negative chatter in your mind. And it doesn’t stop until you fall asleep.
The most common complaint I hear in both personal and spiritual growth circles is, “I can’t stop my negative mental chatter!” Indeed, your mind talks to you incessantly about your perceived faults, shortcomings, and failures—even ones that haven’t happened yet. Of the many thoughts you think every day, the majority are negative.
Your mental chatter is like a grating soundtrack set on autorepeat. Sometimes it’s playing so softly you can’t hear it, and at other times it’s so loud you can’t hear anything else.
The worst part is that you think you’ve lost access to the volume and channel control.
You are Talking to Yourself
Here’s what I want you to know: That negative mental chatter is you talking to yourself.
The mental conversation is comprised of thoughts about yourself and events that happened in the past or could happen in the future. Also, much of what you hear are memories of what someone said or your interpretation of what was said. Additionally, your mental chatter might have its origins in past experiences and what you decided they meant.
It really doesn’t matter where the thoughts originated, though. What’s important is that you realize you are the thinker of your thoughts.
That means you can choose what to think at any given time. And, you have access to the volume control…and you can choose a different playlist, too.
Take Control of Your Thoughts
There are lots of ways to discover the cause of your negative mental chatter. You can go to therapy, hire a coach, meditate, or journal. All of these things are helpful, but in the end, only one thing makes a difference.
You have to take control of what you think.
Remember, the voice in your head is you. Sometimes it sounds like your mom or dad or a former teacher or coach, but it’s still you. You are the one thinking the thoughts.
So, first, take back control of your thoughts. Dictate the nature of the conversation going on in your head. Decide what to think.
Stage a Self-Intervention
Sometimes, changing the subject matter of your mental conversations takes an intervention. Someone has to show up and put a halt to the discussion.
Recently, I was shown a clip of an old Bob Newhart episode. Newhart’s response to a woman’s phobia illustrates the type of intervention you need to employ.
He suggests a simple response to use every time you hear your negative chatter. The response is simple: “Stop it!”
When you become aware of the negative mental chatter, end it quickly. Say, “Stop it!” with energy and volume and as if you really mean it.
Intervene in the conversation. Put a halt to it. Let your mind know that type of talk is not allowed.
When you do so, you take control of the situation—and of your mind. You guide yourself to stop focusing on negative thoughts and focus on positive ones instead.
You are the Voice
Tony Robbins has an affirmation—or “incantation” as he likes to call them—that can be quite powerful if said after the words “stop it.” Follow that demand with, “Now I am the voice.”
As I said, sometimes the voices in your head sound like those of people you know. Other times, your inner chatter seems to come from some uninvited and unknown voice in your head.
Remind yourself that the voice in your head is always you talking to yourself. And recall that you have control over your mind and the thoughts you think.
After all, you are the thinker of your thoughts. No one else…just you. That means all the voices in your head are you.
If you are the voice in your mind, then you can decide what to discuss. You can dictate the conversation.
Be the voice in your head—say aloud, “Now I am the voice!” Choose what to think, and don’t allow the conversation to spiral toward negative topics or condemnations of yourself.
You are the voice. You get to choose how to speak to yourself.
Create a New Soundtrack
So, what do you want to say to yourself?
Once you realize you are the thinker of your thoughts and take control of the conversation, you get to decide what to talk about. You can create a new soundtrack and determine the volume at which it plays.
This is where affirmations can become helpful. Record yourself saying positive things to yourself. Or play affirmations someone else has recorded or even subliminal messages put to music. These are a great way to offer your mind an inspiring and motivating conversation.
Hearing your own voice saying positive things is enormously powerful, though. Consider recording yourself saying positive, supportive, motivating, and inspirational things about yourself. Play that in the background—literally. Or make it a habit to talk positively to yourself in the mirror, while you shower, when you exercise, or anytime you have a chance.
4 Steps to Stopping Your Negative Mental Chatter
Stay present and aware! Each time you hear the negative mental chatter starting up, repeat the four-step process:
- Remind yourself that you are the one thinking those thoughts.
- Intervene by firmly saying, “Stop It.”
- Take control by saying, “Now I am the voice.”
- Speak to yourself in a positive, inspiring, and motivating manner.
It’s time to stop your negative mental chatter. Remember that you are the thinker of your thoughts…all of them. Exercise your ability to choose to think about things that are positive, uplifting, and encouraging. Have the type of mental conversations that help—rather than hinder—your success.
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