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What's More Important? How Others Talk about You or How you Talk about Yourself?

The following is from the Season Finale of the Communication TwentyFourSeven Podcast's Season One. Listen here

It’s December 12, 2021. And I’m sitting here thinking about this being the final episode of Communication TwentyFourSeven’s Season 1 and I have to admit I cannot believe it.

It’s not that I can’t believe it about this being the final episode of 2021. It’s that I can’t believe we’re here at the final of 2021.

And this got me thinking. Where in the hell did the time go and what did I do with it?

And here comes the downward spiral. I begin thinking about all the things I could have done. All the things I should have done. And the next thing I know, I’m depressed, disappointed, and pissed at myself for the myriad of things that are still on my to-do list.

I know I’m not alone in this. This horrible habit of hashing over all of my “could’ves” “would’ves” and “should’ves”. So this brings me to my final topic of the year: Self-Talk.

I want to talk to you about how you talk to you. When it comes to communication, we do spend an awful lot of time focusing on how we talk to others. How we can be more effective in giving feedback. In listening. In being persuasive. In interviewing. In networking. In expressing appreciation, love, friendship.

You know just how important it is to be able to communicate well to everyone else, but have you thought about how you communicate to yourself?

You know, those times when you mumble to yourself, when you have an entire conversation with yourself. Sometimes you do this in your head; sometimes it’s out loud, as long as nobody else can hear it. Amirite?

But when you usually have these inward conversations, what kind of tone do you typically take with yourself? When you have these internal conversations with you, are you as mindful of how you communicate with yourself as you are when you’re communicating with others? Do you try to be kind? Do you try to be supportive? Do you try to monitor your language?

How you talk to yourself, I would argue, is even more important than how you talk to others. Think about it. When was the last time you gave yourself a compliment? Yes, I’m being serious. How can you expect others to like you and find the qualities that are good if you cannot, or will not, do the same for yourself?

Let’s do a quick little exercise. Take a moment and think of one word you’d use to describe yourself. Now, think about two. Can you add a third? How about a fourth? Now that you’re on a roll, I think you should take a moment and take out a sheet of paper and write down five words or phrases that describe you. And then I want you to set the paper to the side. We’re going to back to that list in a moment.

First, let’s get one thing straight. Everybody talks to themselves. We do it every day. I’m willing to bet that right about now you’re asking yourself or talking to yourself about how much you talk to yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re thinking it, saying it out loud, or writing it; it’s all the same. And it has a profound impact on how you feel and how you behave.

Moreover, self-talk is important because not only does it influence how you feel about yourself, it influences how you feel about others. It influences your outlook and whether you have a positive or negative expectation of what's happening around you.

How can this be? Well, it is directly connected to the language we use during these internal conversations with ourselves. Having a conversation requires thinking. And thinking requires us to use language that helps us describe things and to reflect on them.

I’m going to give you a personal example.

Like many of you, I’m sure of it, I look in the mirror every day as a part of my morning ritual. And also like many of you, I’m sure of it, there are times I will struggle with feeling negative about what I see. I have managed to gain a lot of weight over the past year and a half. The pandemic was not my friend. My pants are too tight, I have to be careful about what shirt I wear (gotta control the muffin top visibility), my face is fuller, and my wedding ring has placed my finger in what feels like a very strong choke hold.

This is where the self-talk will make or break my day.

It could go something like this, “What a fat ass! I look like a blob. Everybody is going to be looking at my back fat. I feel like crap. I look like crap. This day is going to be crap.”

Do you think it’s possible that my self-talk just sabotaged my whole day? You betcha! Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I carry that bad attitude and all that negativity around with me, of course it’s going to impact my interactions with others. I mean, who doesn’t love hanging out with a negative Nelly?

But if I change my self-talk, I will literally feel my attitude shifting. It sounds something like this, “I’ve got some sexy curves going on! Good thing the hubby likes a soft woman. Not too muscily. I read the other day that a few extra pounds will actually make you look younger. And they’re right! I do NOT look 48. Smile Jen. You are looking good and feeling good.”

Now, how can I not leave the mirror smiling after having that conversation?

I can hear the naysayers, “Isn’t that a bit over the top? Just a bit conceited?”

And my response to that is, “maybe, maybe not.” My question to you is this, why is it so bad to feel good about yourself? And when was the last time you gave yourself a compliment? It sounds like you might need one. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.

How you talk to yourself does impact your view of yourself and your view of the world. For example, when was the last time you had a conversation with yourself about your goals and how you plan to achieve those goals? What if you hit a roadblock? Do you take yourself to a negative place? Or do you serve as your own coach and pull yourself back up? Not everybody is going to be your cheerleader all of the time. Sometimes you might find that you are your only cheerleader. Especially when you put yourself out there to take a risk, to take a chance.

Let’s say you bombed that last test you took in school. It does not mean that you are stupid. Or you missed the goal during that last game. It does not mean that you’re a terrible athlete. Or you got turned down for that date. It doesn’t mean that you’re unlovable. Remind yourself that that one test, that one goal, that one dismissal is hardly an indication of who you are as a person and your entire being and all of your abilities. It’s only a snapshot in time.

We live. We learn. We move on. And how we move on will be influenced by how we perceive ourselves in that moment. And how we perceive ourselves will be influenced by how we describe ourselves, how we talk about ourselves.

Are you hearing me?

Positivity and the ability to move forward in a constructive way starts with the self-talk.

So let’s get back to that list I asked you to write earlier. Take a moment and look at that list. I asked you to start by thinking of one word you’d use to describe yourself and then asked you to continue adding words or phrases. Are your descriptions positive or negative? If they are positive, good for you! Keep that list handy. If your descriptions of yourself are negative, think about how you just made yourself feel. And I’m sure you wouldn’t let anyone else talk to you that way. Would you? Nobody like to hang around people who make them feel like crap? So why do that to yourself?

Throw that list away. And start a new list.

There should be no limit to the good that you can see in yourself.

The bottom line is you are in charge of your attitude and happiness. This all starts with the self-talk. No one can make you happy. That’s your job.

You just need to tell yourself that the next time you have a conversation with you.

So that’s Season One’s finale of the Communication TwentyFourSeven Podcast. I’d like to take a moment to thank you one last time for allowing me into your headspace and for spending your precious time with me. Season One was a bit rocky in that I basically had no idea what I was doing when I started this podcast. This has been a learn as you go project and I appreciate you hanging in there with me. I plan to make some adjustments that I think will make Season Two even better! So I hope you come back in January when we will continue to communicate about how we communicate. This is Jen Furlong and I hope you have a wonderful holiday and a happy new year!

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