"It is all in your head".
"Come on, you are thinking this way, change it"
If one could record the number of times we get told this by parents, teachers, relatives, friends, and ourselves - it would constitute a mind-boggling number of life situations.
How? No one says.
Although, if we pause and ask ourselves - WHY?
Why do we keep reiterating this statement though we know it doesn't help alleviate us or make the situation any easier, an interesting aspect comes to light. Throughout the history of mankind, the "mind" has been the womb for thought, ideas, beliefs, and the command center for all our actions. So, when assessing a situation, it is indeed brought home to us that yes, it IS all in our heads.
Illustration by Freepik
The concept of inner dialogue is not new. It has been part of major world religions, art, and popular culture for a thousand years. Self-talk is that voice in your head that tells you how to feel, what to believe in, how to evolve an idea, and what to do next? This chatter is both useful and often holds one back.
Discerning when the self-talk enables one and when it delivers a sucker punch is critical to harnessing the strength of one's self-talk. The pertinent question then becomes, can we solve it all in our head?
The tricky part of harnessing the power of something is changing the material or psychological state of the source material, so that energy - whether physical or emotional is released, leading to its use to solve the problem. Water, driving a turbine and generating electricity is an example.
When it comes to mental challenges, since the mind is both the source and the generator, we run into trouble. Here, altering the state of the raw material becomes a challenge since the source and generator keep seeping into each other - both are constructs inside the mind. One could compare this to a turbine made of water, driven by water to generate electricity. While one may find this simply absurd, this is exactly what we do in our minds every living instant.
Two things can change the way we harness the strength of one's self-talk,
1. Knowledge of one's individual Self-Talk characteristics.
Do I pull myself down often?
How much does what others think affect me?
How often do I tell myself to focus or get something done?
Do I celebrate my wins as much as I curse my failures?
These are questions that need introspection. How can we use something, if we don't know anything about it? Finding the pattern of our Self-Talk is the first step to making Self-Talk work FOR us instead of pulling us back.
2. A platform outside the mind to practice harnessing Self-Talk.
Since 'the mind as a platform for solving its own issues' seems inefficient, we need to look beyond it to something that acts as a thought distributor.
Curiously, the human voice acts as both an input and output to the mind, forming an effective closed loop. Is it then a surprise that we turn to conversation or dialogue with a trusted person when having emotional or mental issues? Anyone who has seen a parent or a grandparent "talk to god" would connect with this. It is amazing how human ancestors beautifully encompassed the practice of talking to one's higher self as a way of making sense of one's issues, into a social construct like religion, to make it normal.
Research on working memory has proven that one's voice or the verbal memory loop provides additional working memory to the individual, thereby enhancing capability for logic and problem-solving. Recent findings on "talking out loud to self" show that the activity generates confidence, clarity, and energy, leading to emotional intelligence.
As a paradigm, voice has the potential to be the new platform for observing and alleviating our emotional problems. If we add technology as an enabler, the possibilities are limitless.