Mind talk is the voice within our mind. It is the things we tell ourselves. Often we are not aware of our mind talk; we just listen to the inner voice as it tells us information. An example of some of my current mind talk are things like:
- If others can do this, with time and effort I can learn how to do it too. It may take me a little longer, but with dedication, practice, and perseverance, I can do it.
- I am unique and have an amazing perspective.
- I approach life with a unique set of abilities, disabilities, attitudes, and values. With my life experience, I can succeed in achieving my dreams.
My mind talk has not always been like this. It took years of exploring, questioning, and challenging what I used to tell myself. When I was a young adult, my mind talk included the following:
- I will not amount to anything. Learning is too difficult, it takes too much effort, it is a waste of time, and takes too long for a person with my problems and learning disabilities.
- I don’t fit in to society.
- I am worthless and don’t have any abilities that will be worth anything. What boss would value me? How can I ever make a living?
I share this here because I would like to illustrate that a person can change their mind talk. You may wonder what is the value of changing what we tell ourselves? What does it accomplish?
There was a time when I was at one of my lower points in life. It was not the lowest, but it was close. I was depressed. Everything I touched seemed to go haywire. Fortunately, a good friend took notice and started having discussions with me about my gloomy mood.
One of the first things I learned is that mind talk is a type of self-fulfilling prophecy. Through our mind talk, we create the world we live in. Mind talk can limit us or open new opportunities. Next, I learned that mind talk can be heavily influenced by the things we were told as we grew up. It can also be heavily influenced by life circumstances.
Mind talk has an unusual property. We don’t have to believe in our mind talk for it to have an impact in our life. So, whether we believe in what we tell ourselves or disbelieve it, it will influence our life and have an impact on our life. Mind talk is a type of forecasting of how successful or unsuccessful we will be in life situations.
By changing my mind talk, I was able to transform not only my life, but also how I felt about myself. I was able to value myself as a unique and beautiful human being. I was able to persevere through life challenges and succeed.
How does one change their mind talk? It takes several steps that take time to accomplish long term benefits. First, become aware of your mind talk. Don’t just listen; start to question it every time you find yourself telling yourself something. Ask yourself “Is this true?” Ask yourself “Where is this coming from?” Ask “Is this statement I just told myself helping me or holding me back?”
The next step is to take the mind talk statements that you want to change and rewrite the statement as a statement that you prefer to tell yourself. Write it down and say it to yourself several times a day, even if you don’t believe it.
For example, I used to tell myself I was worthless every time I failed at a task. Once I realized this mind talk statement was holding me back, I asked myself “Is this true?” I realized that just because I failed at a task once, it did not mean I was worthless. I realized that I do have amazing qualities, but they are hidden and masked by dyslexia and ADHD. So each time I failed at a task, I started telling myself that I have hidden qualities that are sometimes hard to see but are of great value. Even though I did not believe in what I was saying at first, I told myself that statement at least 3 times a day for a month. I found it helpful to say this statement every time I brushed my teeth because I brush my teeth 3 times a day, and it was easy to make a new habit by hitchhiking it with an old habit.
Within a month of telling myself the new statement, I realized that when I performed difficult tasks, instead of plunging into the task, I would take a few moments to wonder if I had a different approach that would tap into my hidden skills. Then it would come to me to use a different approach to the task at hand. While I still failed at a few difficult tasks, I was able to complete many tasks successfully. I was no longer failing as frequently, and I even excelled at some tasks that I had previously failed. Real change doesn’t happen overnight. However, small changes can happen overnight, and if you stick with the program, it is the small changes that add up to become major life transformations.