Do You Have an Inner Bully? On Silencing Negative Self Talk...

 

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. Many of us speak to ourselves in hurtful ways, using words we wouldn’t dream of using with others. This relentless negative self-talk manifests itself in our daily lives, causing stress and harm to our inner selves, and ultimately to those around us.

How we communicate with others is, as we all know, incredibly important, but how we communicate with ourselves is equally critical to our wellbeing. By learning how to talk to ourselves with a mindful, compassionate voice, we can not only free ourselves from our harmful self-talk, but also expand our abilities to communicate on a more honest, mindful level with others.

The Practice of Listening

The first step in the process is becoming fully aware of our own inner bully through the art of mindful listening. Many of us have been living with our negative self-talk for so long that it can be difficult to even notice it right away. Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware of the present moment with nonjudgmental attention, and this practice can help us cultivate personal awareness. Applying this practice to moments when you are feeling sad, angry, guilty, ashamed, etc. allows you to be a gentle witness to your inner dialogue. It’s in these times of suffering that we turn on ourselves, and by paying mindful attention to our inner voice during these difficult moments, we begin to see repeating phrases and patterns in the way we talk to ourselves and can then begin the work of naming and changing these inner habits.

The Practice of Exploration

After we’ve begun the process of mindfully naming our negative self-talk, we are ready to dive into the practice of exploring the root causes of the hurtful things we say to ourselves. Exposing these underlying issues can help us alleviate a lot of suffering in our lives. Explorers set out to discover and reveal; what are the beliefs or ideas you may be holding onto that are at the heart of your negative self-talk? What past experiences or societal influences may be behind your self-judgment?

The Practice of Questioning

The next step works in concert with the practice of exploration. Once we have identified our underlying beliefs and ideas that are causing us to lash out at ourselves, we can apply specific questions whenever our inner bully begins to tear us down. These questions are designed to help us pinpoint the stories we tell ourselves as a result of our inner judgment and focus instead on what is actually true. Asking good questions is a key part of communicating with others, and it can be a key part of communicating with ourselves as well. Some of the questions we might ask ourselves would be, “what judgment am I making,” “what story am I telling myself as a result of this judgment,” and “what do I know to be true?”

The Practice of Releasing

There is a lot of hard work in these first three practices, and now we are ready to let go of the destructive beliefs and stories that have given rise to our negative self-talk. By setting down the burden of negative self-talk and replacing it with truthful and compassionate self-talk instead, we can begin the work of being friends with ourselves rather than enemies. Now is the time to ask ourselves if we are clinging to our negative self-talk because it’s become a familiar and comfortable habit. We may also have created an identity for ourselves around our beliefs and stories, and it may be difficult to let go of that identity and see ourselves from a new perspective. This is where the power of forgiveness and compassion can help us mend our relationship with ourselves and open our hearts to new ways of being.

The Practice of Balance

Finally, we are ready to adopt new habits and new ways of communicating with ourselves that are more in tune with the self-compassionate person we aspire to be. Some of these habits might include replacing judgmental language with simple observational language, or inserting positive phrases into our inner dialogue every morning. Practicing this balance doesn’t mean replacing chronic negativity with positive affirmations that aren’t true for us, but it can involve looking for positivity and optimism in our daily lives in order to give our inner dialogue some sense of equilibrium.

Ready to learn more about these five mindful practices and silence your judgmental inner voice for good? Cynthia Kane’s book Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist is available now from all major retailers as well as from our website here.

What are the Secrets to Healthy and Happy Relationships? Find out below...


 

The seven secrets to healthy, happy relationships—commitment, freedom, awareness, healing, joy, communication, and release—can help you at any stage in your intimate partnering, whether you’ve been with someone for many years or are currently single and want to prepare for a partnership. While much of what we have to say will focus on romantic relationships, the truth is that these seven principles can help you create deeper and more meaningful connections in all of your relationships.

The first three secrets— commitment, freedom, and awareness̶̶̶̶—are what we call the foundational secrets.  In our view, these are the bedrock upon which all healthy relationships are built. As you read them, you may notice some areas in your thinking and actions around relationships that need improvement. The good news is that these first three secrets can show you how to repair  faulty foundations, and replace old ideas and beliefs with new and stronger beams of support going forward.

Commitment- This foundational secret is not what most people think. Making a commitment to yourself rather than anyone else is the first step in creating a healthy and happy relationship. Instead of trying to change or mold yourself into who you think others want you to be, commit to finding out who you really are and what you really want. From this place of self knowledge and self love, you can then fully commit to another. The key is in releasing the areas in which you judge yourself or play the victim, and taking full responsibility for your own happiness.

Freedom- As you commit to loving and accepting yourself for who you really are, your next step is to extend this same freedom to your partner, supporting them to be true to themselves. This includes giving up any of the subtle or not so subtle ways you may try and manipulate them into behaving as you think they should. This doesn't mean you won't set boundaries of what you will and will not accept in a relationship, but in allowing your partner the freedom to be their true self, you will instead reveal the deep truth that intimacy thrives when couples feel free to be who they really are.

Awareness- Until you become aware of what is going on inside you, including things like your unconscious beliefs, subterranean fears, and old emotional wounds, they will continue to pop up and create problems in your relationships, making it very difficult to form a deep partnership with another. The good news is that the very act of becoming aware of them lessens their hold on you. Awareness also helps you expand your conscious understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and your relationship deal breakers. This self-knowledge is crucial in building a strong foundation to your partnership.

The next three secrets— healing, joy, and communication—are the transformative secrets. When you bring the teachings and tools we provide in these chapters into your interactions with others, you can prepare for a future partnership, improve and enhance an existing union, or rebuild the framework of even the most damaged structures, transforming them into a clean, spacious, and sturdy way of being.

Healing-   By the time we reach adulthood, virtually all humans have experienced some type of profound loss, traumatic experience, or deep emotional wound. If we push these experiences deep inside us rather than heal from them, that trapped pain will fester and eventually erupt in the form of an emotional or even physical outburst, often at the expense of our unsuspecting partners. Healing from these past experiences, as well as any unhelpful beliefs they have created, is the first secret to transforming your relationship with others and yourself.

Joy- We’d all like to experience joy in our lives, and this is especially true for our relationships. In fact, the pursuit of joy is often what prompts us to seek a relationship in the first place. This chapter discusses concrete ways to cultivate joy in your romantic relationships, such as creativity, play, and sexual pleasure. Creating joy is often the key to transforming relationships that have grown stagnant, and the regular practice of it will help your relationship feel fresh, new, and vibrant.

Communication- While communication is one of the most useful human gifts, it’s surprising how many of us struggle to communicate in healthy and productive ways when it comes to our intimate relationships. Sure, most of us do well when it comes to things we agree about or that we share in common— but the greater challenge is to converse with each other in the midst of issues or topics that challenge or divide us. Learning how to speak our truth, even when our partners don't like what we have to say, is often the most difficult. The tools in this chapter will help you do exactly that.

The seventh and final secret— release—provides guidance on nourishing your relationship on an ongoing basis. This last secret is where you learn the skills to perform the necessary and sustaining maintenance that will keep the construction of your relationship solid, even in the midst of changing and challenging times.

Release- This secret can seem paradoxical in nature, because it often involves not doing rather than doing.  Our relationships offer us hundreds of little ways to release what we often want to hold on to, such as the need to be right, the need to have the last word, and most importantly, the need for things to stay the same. The truth is that change is a constant in life. Sometimes these changes are trivial, sometimes they are momentous; but couples in happy and healthy relationships embrace the constant of change rather than fight it, while simultaneously honoring the part of each other that stays the same. Release is the key to balance between loving the static and the loving the change.

Ready to dive in and learn more? The Seven Secrets to Healthy, Happy Relationships is available now from all major retailers as well as from our website here. AND, if you order a special multi-book package from our website, you can order The Seven Secrets to Healthy, Happy Relationships for just $10 (including free shipping the US)!

Or click here to read the first two chapters and learn more about the foundational secrets, Commitment and Freedom!