How To Change The Way You Talk To Yourself

Ideas. Insight. Inspiration.

How To Change The Way You Talk To Yourself

July 17, 2009 Life Skills 9

mouth2ear Following up on my last post, I have a question I’d like to ask, and I’d like you to hear me asking it in a pleasant and helpful tone of voice.  As you listen to your internal dialogue, does your tone and your language help you to get what you want in your life?  If not, then simply allow yourself to become conscious of the things you tell yourself and initially, just to get some experience with your control over it, simply change the sound of it instead of what it has to say.

Once you’ve learned you can do that, I’d like to recommend that you take charge over the things you say to yourself.  Because that means it’s time to use that voice to exchange positive, supportive thoughts for negative ones, so that never is heard a discouraging word and your skies won’t be cloudy all day (and night!)

You must learn to speak purposefully to yourself to change your attitude for the better. You can develop a few quick-draw mental comments that help you to keep your sense of humor and perspective around difficulties. For example, here are some great things to say to yourself, with brief explanations of how they are true:

1.  “I go for what I want, and I want what I get.” I think I heard this for the first time on the TV show, Kung Fu.  “The branch that bends with the snow lives to see another winter, but the branch that resists the snow breaks.”  Kwai Chang Kaine was a master at bending, and the lesson has stayed with me all these years.  When you resist (struggle with, try to change, limit, inhibit, withdraw from) your challenges it’s usually you that breaks.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that you shouldn’t do something when challenged. But as soon as you accept the situation for what it is, you can begin to access your resources and act constructively to influence it. Because, it is what it is, it ain’t what it ain’t, and that’s the way it is, but how it is does not determine how it will be.  YOU do.  Only by accepting the situation can you begin to take aim at a worthwhile outcome.

2.  “Somewhere in this experience is an opportunity.” Some people think that every silver lining has a dark cloud, and that may be true.  But turn it around and it’s not that difficult to see the possibility that every dark cloud has a silver lining.   Just looking back at your past should reveal this to you.  Just as gold, silver, and diamonds are found in muddy water, dirt, and rocks, so have the beginnings of great opportunities been found in the darkest and most dismal of circumstances.   You just have to look for the opportunities, or at least be willing to see them when they present themselves.

3.  “Any experience I can learn from is a good one.” What you learn from dealing with difficulty will develop your character, make you stronger, and help you in many other areas of your life. Learning means getting feedback instead of failure out of an experience. When you look at the cause-effect relationship between what you did and what you got, you can learn what is working and what is not.

4.  “I can be flexible.” If what you are doing isn’t working, your behavior comes with an iron clad guarantee: It doesn’t work! Anything else you try that doesn’t have that guarantee will have a greater chance of succeeding than something that is guaranteed not to work. Experiment! Try novel  approaches. Be outrageous. Do the last thing you would ever think to do first!

5.  “I know that anything is possible.” Whenever you hear someone say that ‘they’ said something, you know who ‘they’ means, right?  ‘They,’ the people who steal the hubcaps and conduct the research?  The keepers of conventional wisdom?  Throughout history,  ‘they’ always have a lot to say, and most of it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.  For example, they told Tom Edison that electric light wasn’t’ possible, and a light bulb switched on in his head. They said that if man was meant to fly he would have wings, and now the flight attendant pins them on the jackets of children.

And what of the people who believe that anything is possible?  THEY are the ones who get the breakthroughs. So think about it: If people can fly and you can turn on a light, then it must be possible to deal constructively with your challenges.  If you haven’t gotten the result that you want, remember that it’s better to hit the light switch than to curse the darkness.

6.  “Oh Well.” Whether you like the situation or dislike it, your opinion of it won’t really change much of anything, except the way that you feel. So instead of making a big deal out of facts that you don’t like, you might as well take a deep breath and say “Oh well,” and drop your opinion. Let it go and then go on from there.

7.  “All things must pass.” When you are struggling to deal with a difficult challenge, you may sometimes feel like the pain of it will never end. But the feeling that this situation will go on forever is naught but an illusion. Just  think for a moment about how old you are, and about all you’ve been through. Can you believe how fast all that time went by? This event or relationship will also change and then pass. If you look into the future with that knowledge, you may gain perspective and make the whole process easier on yourself.

8.  “This used to bother me.  I’m moving forward.  That’s all behind me now.” Speaking of the past, why not start talking about your reaction to your challenge as if is it already behind you? Whether you’re talking to yourself, or talking to others, use the past tense, so you can stop being tense in the present.

9.  “In God we trust.” According to the ancient proverb, all things work together for good. It is possible that something wonderful is emerging from your present situation, and that you haven’t seen it yet. Just as the stars hang in the sky and the seasons have their cycle, there is a real possibility that there is a big picture at work in your life also, and in time all may be revealed.  Like Kwai Chaing Kaine would tell you, the pain you’ve been experiencing may only be the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Hang in there. Or let go. In due season, everything will be revealed and resolved.

Ok, now talk to me!  Your comments and questions are welcome!

Be Well,



9 Responses

  1. rita says:

    let me put myself into your numbers:
    I did do so but it was hard to get to know WHAT I want because I did not know what helps and brings me forward. I often “bent” on one side but often had the feeling that I also broke. Being blind about the future outcome….
    WHAT if the opportunity I got just might help a few people on earth? Is it the acceptable as a full outcome? To people it might look like “not worth” it but it´s worth for me. It is hard to convince the crowd, just think of the economical principle. I have to avoid lookig at it.
    I fully agree and I was often told I made it SO FAR in life, that I “passed” many others, but: still standing on my own! Looking for a stage for my performance while others share their life in families and I turn around and think: “what´s for me please?”.
    true and yes – but not really working on my work-stage. No network, no flexibility. So now, I am working on my invisible private stage. Maybe it becomes a bridge from Continent to Continent. That´s my plan.
    I am not convinced about it yet….
    …passed that one….
    they do!
    …on my way!
    Thats´the toughest one! I met Murphy a lot more often in life than God who sometimes slapped on his hands when bothering me again. How can I get rid of Murphy? Or is he with everyone of us? (I try to wrapp him into my project)

    If you have an idea about the meaning of my task in life (sense of life), let me know and drop a note, I´d appreciate it! I am a little single puzzle piece which seems to be left over. How do you view at it?

    • Rita,
      Thanks for the comment! I’m not saying you have to say all of these things to yourself, but I’m suggesting that changing the way you talk to yourself changes your results in life. So for example, “Somewhere in this experience is an opportunity” is a great thing to say to yourself when it seems that an experience is awful or pointless. And if the opportunity you find is small, still, whether you take it or not, it means the experience doesn’t have to be pointless. And you may find another opportunity that emerges from the small one you find.

      I could go on through each point, but again, the point is simply this. Change the way you talk to yourself, you can change your experience and your results.

      The last one, about God…How about “In good we trust!” It’s not about religion, it’s about trust, about intending to make the most out of what life gives instead of diminishing life or yourself in the process.

      I do private coaching sessions in which I might be able to help you with that purpose piece!

      Again, thanks for the comment, and please keep em’ coming.
      best wishes,

  2. rita says:

    Hi Rick,

    of course I fully agree to your words: the way we treat ourselves is the way we get along!
    Since my past experiences didn´t yet flood me down (which means: I don´t talk to myself yet ;o)) it is hard to follow. Maybe I should post some notes in my apartment!?
    TRUST is the next thing, my current challenge:
    I fel like god blow the wistle when I was 5y. old, tookme out of the crowd, put me in a corner to wait, cared about th eothers while I was standing there, waiting….waiting…. later on, sharing conversations with passing by people like: “what´s your task in life?”
    God never showed-up again.
    For the damage he left me with, I was repaired on earth by human beings, then released with a “good luck. we can´t do anything else for you.”

    The disguised Gods on earth, who like/want to direct lost people, also passed by. Friends told me: “none is matching to you.”
    Since I had to run around with a so-called handicapped passport although it isn´t visible when walking, talking, laughing, dancing – for small companies I was an absolute no-go. I received it written in words or accidently heard comments about it behind closed doors, e. g. during my apprenticeship.
    Want I want to point out is: a handicapped woman with non-repairable deficits is unattractive for the land of 100% quality, the land with the “MADE IN” stamp.
    What I mean is: I do not diminish myself, it´s the culture around me. People are picky, just the best gets the best – the rest, well….

    So I can be truely glad to work for a huge company which offers a safe job.
    But my co-workers all live the happy life and I stand in the middle of their conversations and still should smile and think of some trust in God?
    IT IS HARD!! Where is this guy?! I am a bit angry with him.
    How can I re-program this “wrong way” thinking?

    NOW it´s your turn, pls.:
    how can I get back TRUST and talk nicer with myself, to turn – whatever will turn – maybe the world around?
    Simply by doing? Well, that wont´work. I need deeper insides, otherwise I am not convinced. I am not a broad person, I am profound.

    Now pull me under the surface of this ocean and show me!!
    I am curious…


    • Thanks for the comment, Rita! You say:

      “NOW it´s your turn, pls.:
      how can I get back TRUST and talk nicer with myself, to turn – whatever will turn – maybe the world around?
      Simply by doing? Well, that wont´work. I need deeper insides, otherwise I am not convinced. I am not a broad person, I am profound.”

      I’m not wanting to convince you of anything with my writing (only you can convince you), just offering ideas, insight, and hopefully assisting interested people to access their own resources. Perhaps my blog can serve you in this way. As for getting your trust back…three things I can tell you.

      1. It’s not personal that you had whatever difficulties you’ve had. That’s just life. As I tell my students, this is earth, and it’s hard here. Hard for everyone! The sooner you face that truth, the sooner you get on with your life and make the most out of what is given to you by life.
      2. It’s not fair. The rain falls and the sun shines on good and bad alike. Feeling singled out by life for some unique torment or torture is an experience that many people have. So what seems most unique is usually most common amongst human beings.
      3. Find support for yourself, and it’s easier to stand your trials and handle your challenges. And support is around you, but you have to be open to it, and willing to receive it.

      I understand that it can seem like everyone else is doing great when you’re struggling. Jim Morrison wrote a song about it in the 60s, with the lyric “People are strange, when you’re a stranger.” But we are all strangers in a strange land, finding our way, and the journey is best when we give and receive help and support easily. Look up, look around, reach out, ask for what you want and need (like you’re doing here) and you may be surprised to find just how much support is available to you.

      Last thing: I’ve no interest in talking about God on my blog. Matters of the ‘spirit’ are intensely personal, and I respect every person’s journey in finding their way to some kind of truth about these things. I won’t debate religion or matters of the spirit, and have no use for the answers provided by others to such things. And there are answers aplenty. All the world’s religions offer certainty in the face of the unknown. Such answers seem to give comfort to many, but not to all. Me, I’m comfortable with uncertainty, with not knowing. I don’t think the universe plays favorites. I don’t think there’s a God who sits on a throne with a fly swatter, and whacks the people who displease him or her. Why? Because too many awful people do quite well in this world, and too many good people suffer for no apparent reason. For me, trying to understand such things is like a flea contemplating a camel. The universe is too vast, and my words and concepts are too small. Instead, I’m more concerned with practical things, what can be done, what is possible, how things actually work. I figure I’ll either find out or not find out about what is currently unknowable after I die. Meanwhile, there is plenty worth paying attention to without all that.

      You wrote:
      “Now pull me under the surface of this ocean and show me!!
      I am curious…”

      I’ll conclude by saying that you have more deep inside of you than at the surface, and that uncovering the decisions you’ve made about life and the influence your decisions have had on your life may prove most fruitful. Same holds true with your choices, in each and every moment.

      Best wishes,

      • rita says:

        Hi Rick,
        I do appreciate your competent and open asnwers/ideas to me! It´s not common to get in touch with experienced people by chance and experts are hard to find.
        When searching for answers/ideas I often figured that it is mostly just 1 sentence which gets to the point the reader/searcher was looking/hoping for.

        You wrote that you don´t think the universe plays favorites.
        This is a new “view” to me how to look at all the happenings on earth and I think it carries some logic. I like this sentence! A good explanation!
        The opportunity now is here, since I was asking for some “convincing” and by replying you additional delivered “it”, thank you. That was a full hit!

        Thanks for the three advices you added!!
        Thinking about #3 in life, I have to face that developing takes time. I should give time a fair chance :o)

        Again, thank you for taking time for the detailed answering you offered.


  3. rita says:

    just skipped the “private class” offer – do you honestly think I can wait ´til next year March?!?? :o))
    I´ll be in New York – first time – just a thought: do you know your schedule for 03/10 yet? And say: how long would it take and how much ($) is it worth it? Just checking.

    • Rita
      Re: a private session – Is it worth it? You get out what you put in. So a committed client gets better results than someone who hopes it ‘works.’ Like sitting in front of a fireplace in the winter, and saying, “Give me heat and I’ll put wood in you,” it wouldn’t be effective that way. But for clients that make commitments to positive changes in themselves, absolutely worth it!

      As to scheduling next March…better to get in touch with me closer to the date of your trip, to see if we match calendars. I also do speaking and training work, and those engagements take priority over coaching sessions (for $ reasons!)

      My coaching clients pay less for more commitment. A single session is most expensive. Two sessions, less per session. And a commitment to do four sessions up front means less for each session again. You can talk with me about this via email for more details. I’m at

      Best wishes,

      • rita says:

        Hi Rick,

        I have to apologize – I caused a misunderstanding within my English translation when writing “how much is it ($) worth it”.
        I actually indirectly asked about the fee you take from clients, I was insecure if I should be direct.
        Thanks for the offer to get back to you when making plans for my trip, I will! Say, was the reply-mail somehow cut-off in the end? Looks like the last sentence got cut-off.

        Thanks for your patience!
        You offer a lot of help.


        • I understood your question just fine, Rita. I didn’t care to post my fees on my blog, that’s all. If you’d like to know that information, simply go to my coaching website and contact me through the contact form there.

          (that’s what got cut off from my previous reply!)
          Best wishes,

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