YOUR SELF-TALK SOUNDTRACK
You’ve spent hours curating the perfect party mix.
You’ve agonized over your sex playlist.
But how much time have you spent thinking about your self-talk soundtrack?
It’s the most important thing you listen to every day – but most of us spend the least amount of time thinking about it.
Your self-talk soundtrack is the running commentary in your head. It’s the thoughts you have about yourself, your actions, your appearance, and your feelings all day every day. If you’re awake, your self-talk soundtrack is running.
And yet most of us never think critically about what our self-talk soundtrack is saying to us, and whether it’s true. We just trundle along believing everything we think. Our self-talk soundtrack is the background to every day and night we spent on this earth, but we absorb it all without evaluating it for whether it’s true, useful, or helpful.
So where does your self-talk soundtrack come from? Why does it matter? And what can you do about it?
Click below to download a free guide The 5-Minute Self-Talk Makeover
Where Does It Come From?
You know that running commentary you hear in your head all the time?
“Your idea in that meeting was stupid. You shouldn’t have gotten that latte, it’s fattening and you’re wasting money. You were awkward in the elevator with that cute guy, you should have flirted with him.”
Your self-talk soundtrack is that voice. It’s the voice that is constantly evaluating and critiquing you, giving you feedback on how you should look, dress, speak, act, work and behave.
So where did it come from?
Your self-talk soundtrack is the amalgamation of a lot of different influences. That list would include – but is definitely not limited to:
- What your parents taught you, both explicitly and just the kind of things you heard them say around the house.
- What social norms you absorbed growing up.
- What your friends think and talk about.
- The kind of education you had.
- The kind of media you consume.
- Your own unique take on the world.
Your self-talk soundtrack is a remix of all those influences, filtered through your own life experiences and your own unique brain. If your’e awake it’s running. Sometimes you may be really aware of it, and sometimes it may fade into the background, but it’s always there.
And if you’re like most women, your self-talk soundtrack is mostly critical. It’s not a constant assessment of all the ways you are awesome and a catalogue of your accomplishments and virtues.
Nope. It’s like the meanest of the mean girls, constantly enumerating your faults, failings, and shortcomings. Your self-talk soundtrack probably spends a lot of time recording what you’ve done wrong and how you could be better.
Why Does It Matter?
Your self-talk soundtrack creates everything in your life. Everything you do, everything you feel, everything you are able to create in your life – it’s all shaped by your self-talk soundtrack.
Just think about it: Let’s say you want to find a relationship. If your self-talk soundtrack is constantly telling you that you’re too fat and too loud and not pretty enough and that men don’t like you, how are you going to feel? You’re going to feel insecure and ashamed. And that means you’re going to take fewer opportunities to meet potential mates, and when you do you’re going to show up more insecure and less confident.
That’s just one example: But the same concept holds in every area of your life. Your self-talk soundtrack is what creates everything you feel and determines what you can achieve, find, and produce in your life. Maybe you are happily married – but you want to go for a promotion at work. Imagine this is your self-talk soundtrack:
“Are you really experienced enough? Sometimes you procrastinate too much and there were a lot of edits on your last project. What if they are interviewing Becky too? She’s been here for two more years than you have. You’re probably not the best person in the office for the job.”
With that self-talk soundtrack, are you likely to apply for the promotion? And even if you do, are you likely to brainstorm creatively, strategize effectively, and represent yourself brilliantly in trying to get it? Probably not.
Your self-talk soundtrack doesn’t just “describe” things to you. It actively creates your feelings about yourself and the kinds of actions you take. And that means it directly creates the successes or failures you experience. If you haven’t found the kind of love you want, if you’re feeling stuck in your career, if you feel guilty and stressed about your family life, if you don’t like the way you look or how your body feels…your self-talk soundtrack created all of those problems for you.
And that means recording a new self-talk soundtrack is what will solve them for you.
What Can You Do About It?
Click below to download a free guide The 5-Minute Self-Talk Makeover
First things first, I am NOT about to tell you to “think more positively” or to “practice affirmations.” I mean, that’s great if it works for you, but if you’re reading this article, it probably hasn’t worked.
It certainly didn’t work for me. When I was working on my body image, I was starting from a place where I had critical thoughts about my body pretty much every minute of every day. I hated it. So looking into the mirror and repeating “I am beautiful” over and over did nothing. Actually it was worse than nothing, because it not only didn’t help – it made me feel worse because it was such a contrast to how I actually felt, and then it made me feel hopeless that it wasn’t working!
So don’t worry. No positivity platitudes here. Instead, let’s work with what neuroscience teaches us about how the brain actually works.
Your current self-talk soundtrack happens automatically, because it is running along neural networks that are well-established in your brain. Your self-critical thoughts are actually electrical signals that fire from neurons that have wired together and gotten stronger and stronger through repetition.
So if we want to record a new self-talk soundtrack for you, we have to come up with new thoughts. But they have to be thoughts you can BELIEVE. That’s why positive thinking often doesn’t work – if you don’t believe the new thought, it does nothing.
So instead of reaching for a positive affirmation you don’t believe, we start with a more modest goal. We want to create a new neural pathway that you find easy to believe, so that you will think it over and over and it will get stronger and stronger. (And bonus, as that network gets stronger, the older network with the negative thought will wither and die).
The most powerful tool in my self-talk soundtrack arsenal is the “neutral thought.” Let’s take my body image example. If my self-talk soundtrack is constantly saying “You’re fat. You’re disgusting. No one will love you in this body,” I’m not going to go straight to “My body is amazing and anyone would be lucky to see me naked.” That’s not going to work.
Instead I’m going to practice a small neutral thought. Like, “I have a human body.” Or “That is a human body.” Or “My body exists.” These are all thoughts that are undeniably true, so I believe them. They don’t feel AMAZING. But they also don’t feel terrible. They feel better than my original negative self-talk soundtrack. And they occupy my brain by giving it something new to practice. And if I practice thinking them, on purpose, over and over again, they will become a natural part of my self-talk soundtrack. They will record over the “You’re fat and disgusting” loop and create a NEW self-talk soundtrack. And once I am used to thinking “that’s a human body” – that’s when I can start recording an actual positive self-talk soundtrack.
These days I think my body is beautiful. I’m in a happy relationship. My business is thriving and my career goals blow my mind. I have good friends and I actually enjoy spending time with my family of origin. None of this was true before I discovered my self-talk soundtrack and learned how to change it. Recording a new self-talk soundtrack, on purpose, is the key to changing anything in your life. Nowhere is too small to start, and it’s never too late to begin.