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How Our Inner Monologue Can Inform Our Reality

Mary-Lauren O’Crowley, MA, NCC, LPC 

The average person has up to 60,000 thoughts per day. Most of our decisions are based on this inner dialogue, and yet, for many of us, this inner dialogue is not pleasant, encouraging, or reassuring. While self-talk and even introspection are important, as it allows us to become aware of our strengths as well as areas for growth, we often confuse constructive criticism with destructive criticism. Begin observing our inner dialogue and you’ll soon realize that it’s often very negative and discouraging. Think of it like this: Suppose our friend is going through a tough phase in their life and struggling to find inner peace. How would you approach them? Would you further worsen their situation by giving them hard and pessimistic feedback? Would you tell them that they are at fault and they should try harder? Most of the time, the answer is “no.” Instead, you would likely seek to comfort them and tell them. We must ask ourselves, then, why do we speak so cruelly and critically to ourselves? 

Our Inner dialogue can greatly impact our lifestyle and overall sense of well-being. It shapes our personality, dictates our decisions, and determines how we approach our relationships. When experts say our inner dialogue shapes our reality, they are not saying it metaphorically or poetically. Whenever we say something to ourselves, it activates an emotion, which triggers a body reaction and forces us to act or behave in a certain manner. Persistent thought patterns can sit in our subconscious mind, leading us to say and do things as if on auto pilot, without any real intention behind it. 

How to Cultivate a Kinder Relationship With Ourselves 

You might be thinking, “All right, I understand the point you’re trying to make. Of course, our inner dialogue and thoughts are very crucial for our mental and physical health and I should be more gentle and loving towards myself. BUT, most of my thoughts come automatically. It seems like they mysteriously come and go on their own and I have no control over them.” You would be right. Our mind chatters all the time. It would be nearly impossible to get hold of each and every thought and challenge it or actively work to get rid of it. This may even cause further internal distress. So how do we start our journey then?

How Meditation Can Help

Meditation is an effective tool to harness positive thinking and quiet rumination. When you sit in solitude and consciously observe our thoughts, you can experience an unfathomable stillness and deep bliss. You are essentially forcing our minds to pause. Now that you have successfully given our minds a deep cleaning, what’s the next step? It’s time to nourish it with positivity and love. How do we do that? Affirmations have got you covered! Words can mend, break, or heal us. our inner dialogue is all about the WORDS you choose for yourself. Why not use this very method for our good rather than evil? Now I know that immediately shifting to positive thinking is no child’s play. Given the fact that most of our thoughts are involuntary, we must reprogram our subconscious minds. Thanks to a thing called neuroplasticity, the good news is this: our brains can learn new ways of being and doing, meaning we can actively work to transform our thought patterns over time. Affirmation is an amazing method to infuse positive messages into our subconscious and boost self-confidence, self-empowerment, and faith in ourselves. When we actively and intentionally focus on reframing situations to find meaning and even gratitude, our brain begins to internalize this. Keep in mind, that this takes repetition and practice. Stick with it and note any shifts or changes! 

Try Practicing Positive Affirmations

Finally, if you are struggling to challenge the validity of negative thought patterns, recite positive affirmations, or stick to a meditation routine, you may want to consider acceptance. While this may sound simple, I assure you it takes practice. Have you ever noticed that when our thoughts are spiraling out of control and creating a narrative that absolutely terrifies you, you tend to resist, push back, or get totally entangled in these thoughts? Imagine if you could begin to notice these thoughts, but rather than let them control you or convince you that they are THE truth, you instead accept them for what they are: skewed thoughts. Next time you notice a thought that feels scary or anxiety-inducing, consider watching it float by without latching onto it. Instead, engage with something in the present. See? You just practiced acceptance. 

The moment you realize our dis-ease, you’re already halfway on your way to awakening. Be the observer of our inner dialogue. Instead of judging or criticizing our inner world, harness the ability of perspective-taking, meta-awareness, and emotional and mental detachment. Eventually, one day, a negative thought will come our way and you will laugh at it because it no longer has any power over you! 

If you or someone you know is struggling to challenge negative thoughts or quiet rumination, please reach out to the intake specialists at Symmetry Counseling today! We can get you paired with a Chicago counselor who can walk with you on your mental health journey.

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