Learning to quiet or cease negative self-talk is a worthy goal, but it can be a lot harder to reach if you attack it without any background information. Do you know when you started hearing these hurtful things rattling around in your head? Do they come louder or more frequently at certain times or around certain people? Why do you think your internal monologue sounds this way?
Finding the why of negative behaviors can be a long, challenging process, but it’s nearly always worthwhile. Margarita Tartakovsky has a fabulous suggestion for kick-starting the process in a gentle, caring way.
Instead of getting frustrated with our bodies, our reactions or our feelings, we can get curious. Instead of berating ourselves, we can dig deeper. We can explore why we’re having certain emotions and reactions. We can scour our mistakes for lessons.
I love the concept of curiosity because it’s a powerful way to engage with ourselves and our environment. When we’re curious, we’re more present. We’re more open to learning. We get to know our needs. We get to know ourselves. We can use the information we learn to truly nourish ourselves.
The great thing is that we know how to be curious. We perfected it as kids. All of us. We tried to get to the bottom of mystifying things. We persisted until we knew the facts, until we understood. And, today, we can sharpen our sense of curiosity. We can cultivate a thirst for new knowledge and insight.
She goes on to list more than 20 exploratory questions that can be used to examine our histories, motives, and influences. Questions like, “What have I learned from the times I haven’t treated myself well?” and “What does my inner critic usually say when I try something new?” Even taking the time to address two or three of these questions could provide insights that would otherwise remain buried or obscured.
Sometimes it takes a helpful therapist or trusted friend to find the why. Sometimes it takes many months or years to find the why. But even if you need a guide for a journey that proves to be long, you can take the first steps yourself. You can begin the process of understanding your reasons for negative self-talk.
What are you criticizing yourself for today that you can get curious about instead?