Our fitness and personal training expert James Anderson discusses the importance of maintaining a healthy inner dialogue. How do you choose to speak to yourself?
If you want to create a positive change in your life, then you first need to change how you’re communicating with yourself. Because what you’re telling yourself on a consistent basis will ultimately determine your outcome.
Why? It’s actually pretty simple.
The importance of language
1. Because what we focus on, we feel. (Thinking)
2. Our feelings (i.e. emotions) determine our behaviour. (Doing)
3. Our behaviour drives the person we become. (Being)
So it all starts with your language - whether we call it a critical voice or negative self-talk, this disempowering internal dialogue we’ve designed tries to ensure that we “play it safe” and within the “rules” of the game called life.
Our feelings determine our behaviour
Now we know that our thoughts cause feelings, and those feelings determine our behaviour – then if you’re not where you want to be in life then maybe it’s time to start changing our language?
Sure, we’re emotional creatures, but what you need to realise is that if you’re not where you want to be, then you’re identifying with emotions that are not supporting and protecting you - they’re actually weighing you down and disabling your potential.
If you’re struggling with consistent positive change in your life then maybe you’re just focused on the wrong things? So, let’s start with what’s right, instead.
The first step is to catch yourself in the act. This requires that you make a conscious decision to stop and question what you’re telling yourself.
Stop, take a step back, try and dissociate yourself from the emotion for a moment and ask for evidence as to whether what you’re thinking is reality, or just a perception based on your often overly exaggerated fictional characters and scenarios.
Here are a few words and themes to watch out for in your language:
A global statement is a broad stroke, poorly substantiated statement that takes you from a place of responsibility to blame - from cause, to effect.
Examples of these that I hear everyday are things such as - “I can never lose weight” or “I always overeat.”
Global statements are one of the fastest ways to get yourself stuck as they leave you with nowhere to go. They are absolute terms that don’t allow for another outcome. It’s when you stop and question the statement that it starts to sound stupid.
Let’s use “I can never lose weight” as an example. Because, if you’ve ever lost any weight, ever, in the history of your entire life, then you’ve just made that statement false – which then allows and opens up the potential for you to search for a different outcome.
So, the rule is: It’s always wrong to use the word never, and never right to use the word always.
Recent scientific evidence has suggested that 87% of people that use the word “but” are more likely to have bigger butts.
Now, I hope you picked up in my language that was a false statement, but; most people I come across that aren’t achieving the health and body transformations they want, tend to overuse this word as it generally precedes an excuse.
There’s always going to be 100 reasons why you can’t, all you need is 1 more reason why you can.
If you’re running a negatively skewed internal dialogue with yourself then the chances are that the use of this word will also follow an excuse or a reason why if can’t work.
However, it can be used powerfully too, by adding on reasons as to why you can achieve something. Your power and energy will flow in the direction of the words that follow your “because”.
The majority of people that struggle tend to start - and stop - with the word should. “I should do this, I should do that” they say, and then no action is taken, time passes and that should turns into didn’t.
Start following up your “should” with immediate action towards the outcome you want, before you have the time to talk yourself out of it. Because if you allow time to fill the void, then 9 times out of 10 that time will be wasted finding reasons why you can’t. Even small progress towards something, is still progress – don’t make it bigger than it needs to be.
A final word on how you speak to yourself
Now you know what to watch out for in your language, my strong suggestion is that you establish some clear goals for every area of your life so as to help draw you into into the light, rather than spending your time standing in the darkness of your fears and indecision.
Use terms like “I can”, “I will” and “I must” as they are powerful starters to your sentences of success (aka goals). Because, at the end of the day, you will always get what you must have, not always what you want to have.