One of the most popular videos I have on YouTube involves me teaching a variety of strategies on how to handle your internal dialogue. Now, the term ‘internal dialogue’ suggests that there are at least two voices talking inside your head. Indeed the process of thinking often seems that way. One of the worst things that people report to me is the internal ‘nagger’ in their mind. It is the voice that continues to hassle them, goad them and makes them feel bad on a regular basis.
The internal nagger, we will call it for now, has a negative and angry tone of voice most of the time. It is exceptionally critical and spends a massive amount of time identifying all of the things wrong with you and all of the mistakes that you are making. It survives under a false pretence that it is trying to help you. It is trying to help you improve and get better. Often, however, it fails to do this and instead serves to make the inside of your head a painful place to be.
The reality is that internal nagging becomes habitual and repetitive which is why it doesn’t work. When we are nagged by others, it fails to work long-term as all it does is annoy us and make us feel bad. We aren’t taught what to do differently. Internally the same mistakes are made.
Conquering internal nagging requires that you do a number of things.
First, understand what your internal nagger is trying to do. Understand that although its approach might not be good, its intention is. What is the positive intention that guides it? How does it want you to improve? Once you understand the answers to these questions you can begin to plan a strategy to implement the lessons it is trying to teach you. You can focus on what you need to do rather than what you were not doing or what you were doing wrong.
Second, identify what questions you would need to ask inside your head that would get you to feel motivated and able to implement these lessons. How would you talk to yourself if you wanted to encourage yourself and inspire yourself to make a change and have it last long-term?
Third, understand what challenges may be in the way of you implementing the new behaviour. Predict any problems ahead of time and plan how you will deal with them when they do arise. This ensures that you will make the necessary improvements last.
Fourth, listen to the tone of the inner nagger. Play around with it and make it ridiculous or exaggerate it and make it seem silly. Then instantly replace it with a new voice and ask the questions that you created in the second part of this strategy above. Practice going from the inner nagger to the inner guide and notice how you find yourself feeling much better about the situation.
Fifth, plan for the situations that you normally nag at yourself and mentally rehearse using your new strategy in its place. The more you practice this the better you will get, the happier you will be and you will be in a far better position to conquer the internal nagging.
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