Self Talking

Thanks to some intensive therapy, I am now queen of self-talk; and, whilst I don’t always feel like “being positive” or “having an internal conversation”, an article last week got me thinking about just how valuable this is.

To emphasise the point, the ‘fact’ on my shampoo bottles (shampoo: “who is the person you talk to most?” / conditioner: “yourself”) have concurred to make the message heard. This is clearly a subject that I am meant to be writing about –

Self-talking is something I now do on a regular basis. It kicks in, the moment my head kicks off – and seems to work through a few key themes:

Recognition

The recognition bit is around letting me know that my head has now gone off on its own merry way. It’s that little voice that says “whoa there, Melissa, what’s going on?” It recognises that things aren’t quite right; but also helps me to name the feeling by recognising where I have felt it before.

Realisation

When I have acknowledged the feeling, and realised what it is, then my self-talking voice can start to play detective, and work out where it began. This seems to involve walking my thoughts backwards to the first sense of the feeling (if possible), so that I can get some idea of how I’ve arrived at where I am.

Even if the progression is somewhat unclear.

Rationalisation

Rationalisation is the next step. It’s the voice that then chips in and points out where I’ve made some giant leaps in my thinking (like when I am catastrophising or have forgotten the colour grey) – or why it actually makes sense that I am feeling how I am (because I am hurt, or angry, for example), and that this is totally okay.

Reminding

Then comes the reminding. The reminder that I have been here before – and coped just fine. The reminder of the people and thoughts that I can turn to when I need a little support. The reminder that feelings are just feelings, and this too, will pass.

Makes sense.

But it doesn’t stop there! My self-talking has also developed a range of tones and approaches so that it can be doubly sure of being heard. Different feelings, times, and contexts, inevitably require different types of talk.

Compassion

This is the kind voice. It listens to what I’m saying and reassures me that it is okay. It is characterised by positivity (“you can do this”), and compassion (“you deserve to do this”), and reassurance (“I promise that you’ll be okay”).

Practical

This voice gives me ideas. It helps me when I can’t find the energy, and focuses on proactive help.

Minus the word “should”.

Practical is “calling a friend made you feel better last time you were alone” and “plan something for tomorrow if you’re feeling lonely today” and “you’ll feel better if you have a shower or give yourself a little TLC”. It’s the voice that I quite often want to tell to shut up – but is, very often, right.

Therapist

This voice is a professional. It helps me to unravel – and then resolve – what’s going on. It is closely linked to the realisation and rationalisation stages, and characterised by questions (“what are you feeling?”), and honesty (“what are you really feeling?”), and teasing things out –

So that they can then go away.

Cheerleader

This one’s still undeveloped, but I am marking it’s space. It is about cheering me on, and fighting my corner, and taking over the things that I normally wait for other people to say!

Perspective

This voice is the perspective, an objective take on what’s going on. It reminds me to look at the bigger picture, when I’m stuck on a detail; or the smaller picture, when I can’t see where it will all end.

*    *    *

So, that’s a whistlestop tour of what’s often going on my head – and I’d be really interested in hearing how other people have developed their ability to self-talk, or if they use any other techniques instead?

Related stuff: Self-talking and not self-harming; Self Management and Resisting Relapse.

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3 Responses to “Self Talking”

  1. judy says:

    I used to have this habit of sometimes listing my titles. I’d do it when I felt lost and adrift, I’d list all the things I was. (Like student, writer, mom, etc.) It would sort of ground me. I haven’t done that for a while. You just reminded me. I should try it again. It’s a much nicer form of self talk than the voices I contend with usually.

    Love this post, Melissa. I’ve been remiss in my bloggy travels. It’s good to be back here on yours.

  2. magicplum says:

    I love the way you’ve broken down ‘Self Talking’ here, I think I have a few of the skills honed quite well, others need a lot of work – especially Perspective! I’m glad you wrote this – because on reading it I realise that I do have some quite recently developed Self Talk methods although I hadn’t consciously thought of them as such. I will be having a think in the next few days, observing, how I address my less than useful/helpful thoughts. Because I am definately better at handling them than I once was, but am not quite sure how or why!!
    xxx

  3. Melissa says:

    Thank you for the comments.

    Judy – you’ve reminded me that I used to run through the names of people that I really cared about (and who cared about me) in order to fall asleep…so I might be returning to that practice!

    Magicplum – I didn’t realise how much I did it until recently either! It was the article that got my head thinking – and actually, it’s been pretty crucial to keeping me sane! Glad it’s helping you too! xx