You are responsible for your thinking. Change your thinking and life will get better. But, what thoughts do you change? Your troublesome thoughts about a situation can easily be found in your self-talk. Self-talk is that inner running dialogue you have with yourself. It is what you tell yourself about life’s situations.
All of us have a voice that talks to us. You might think of it as your conscience. It might be that “inner observer” who seems to sits in the corner and watches everything you do. You may recognize it as that voice that starts talking to you upon awakening in the morning. Sometimes it may wait until you look in the mirror before it actually speaks. It is that voice that says, “You sure are handsome.” or “What a wonderful person you are.” Or “You are going to have a great day.” It might say, “You are so slim and your hair looks beautiful.” If you don’t’ recognize this voice then yours may be speaking to you in a different tone. You might be hearing, “You look like crap today” or “You sure have gained a lot of weight.” “Your hair is a mess.” “It’s is a terrible day! Get back in bed.” This voice, the negative, critical one, is one of the main reasons we have so many problems. It can destroy resiliency by opening the flood gates and draining away your energy.
This voice can make anything worse. You may be like most people and know how to take any small problem, think about it for awhile, and have a bigger problem. That little voice keeps telling you what might go wrong. All of the dark possibilities are pointed out. The imagination creates a very bad situation. The problem goes from a mild annoyance to a major catastrophe as you convince yourself that the imagined situation is the real situation. You are now busy confronting a problem that only exists in your mind.
Any response, at this point, is going to be out of proportion to the original problem. The normal reaction to the original problem is most likely some degree of emotional distress. If you have been laid off from a job, you may be feeling some combination of tense, worried, anxious, sad, irritated, frustrated, or angry. All of these are normal emotions for the experience. However, that inner voice may be busy exaggerating, ” This is horrible and terrible. It is the world’s worst thing. You will never find another job. You are a hopeless and helpless person. No one will ever hire you. You won’t be able to pay your bills. You will lose everything you have. You should just give up.” With such a running dialogue you will soon fall into depression or become enraged at your imagined mistreatment. In a deep depression you may decide that the situation is hopeless and become suicidal. In a state of rage you may act in an inappropriate, violent manner towards your former employer. Either reaction is too intense because the response is to a situation you have created in your mind. Change your mind, your attitude, and the problem can shrink back to its original size. The original problem may be bad enough but it is not the catastrophe you have invented.
To change your attitude you must change the inner dialogue. To change the dialogue you must catch it in action. To do this you have to pay attention to yourself. You must engage in self-observation and listen for that inner voice.
The next time that you find yourself feeling “bad” don’t start asking, “Who did this to me?” Don’t start looking around for the external cause of your problems. What you should do is to ask yourself, “What have I been thinking?” “What have I been telling my self?” You may find that your inner dialogue has put you deep into emotional distress