It has been well studied that the power of thought can influence the body’s ability to heal. There are many self-help books on positive thinking and it’s effects. However, what is not always addressed are the subtle tapes that we as humans sometimes play in our head that can be holding us back from our full health potential and even could be making us more ill. These are called your internal dialogues.
These internal conversations are things that we tell ourselves subconsciously that motivate us to act, react, or not act at all in a certain situation. They typically come from deep seeded messages we received in our childhood and/or along our life’s way through interaction with different people in our lives as well as society.
Have you ever talked to the slim woman who says she can eat anything she wants and never gains weight? What about the person who says, "I never get sick" and really means it?
On the contrary, have you ever met a person who is always seeming to have bad luck who constantly talks about how bad his luck always is? This is not coincidence, these people are to some extent influencing their own situation by their primary thought focus.
How do our thoughts affect our physical conditions? Stressful negative statements can cause and worsen diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel disease, erectile dysfunction, migraine headaches, obesity. In addition, negative and stressful internal dialogues can create or worsen panic disorder, insomnia, anxiety, depression, stress reactions.
So, what are some of the negative messages we feed ourselves?
There are both obvious and not so obvious negative dialogues that can affect our mental and physical well-being. Here are some examples:
– "I’m always getting sick"
– "I am always broke"
– "I hate my job"
– "I can’t…."
– "I’m trying…"
– "I give up"
– "If only ___would happen then ___."
– "I’m always tired"
– "I never get enough sleep"
– "I don’t have time for me"
– "There aren’t enough hours in the day"
– "I don’t make friends easily"
– "You can’t trust anyone"
– "I’m such an idiot"
– "I should know better"
– "I (could) never be ____"
– "I’m always stressed out"
– "I feel (look or am getting) old"
Do you find yourself ever saying any of these statements? Here is an exercise: take an inventory for one day of your thoughts. Write down any negative statements that come through your mind. At the end of the day, take a look at how often you use statements like these and how they could be affecting the outcomes of your health and life.
So, now that we’ve identified negative dialogues in our lives, how can we shift our focus on the solution…changing our dialogue. While it’s not an overnight process it is something that can be done by changing one statement at time.
Awareness is the first step.
Once you are aware of your internal dialogue and how it affects your health, you can begin replacing negative statements (or countering negative statements) with positive affirmations. What is an affirmation? It is a positive statement in the present tense that affirm a particular goal or desire: Some examples are:
– I love and accept myself unconditionally
– God gives me all that I need, all of the time
– I am the source of creativity and expression
– I feel complete acceptance, love and surrender
Here is an exercise: Create you own affirmation about a goal or desire that you have
The more you counter negative statements with positive affirmations, the easier it will become. Soon, the negative statement will not even come out of your mouth, and you will default to the positive affirmation. Here are some more examples of negative statements and their positive counterparts.
– I can’t believe I did that
– I can’t afford….
– I can’t, I’m trying but, or It’s too hard
– What is wrong with me?
– I have to…..
– I’m too (fat/skinny)
– I’m human and that’s okay
– It’s not a financially wise choice right now
– I’m doing the best that I can
– I am okay as I am
– My goal is to…..
– With all of my perceived imperfections, I am absolutely beautiful (good looking, handsome)
Another way to counter negative thinking is by having an attitude of gratitude.
Try this exercise: Wake up every morning for the next 5 days and before you get out of bed, write down 5 things you are grateful for. Then the next 5 days do the same thing at night before you go to bed. How does this affect the beginning and ending of your day? It’s hard to focus negative, when you are busy being grateful for the things that you do have!
Here is another exercise: During the day, if you find yourself in that negative thought cycle and you become aware, stop and begin listing from A to Z things that you are grateful for. See how this shifts your physical and mental state.
Conclusion, part of wellness involves our state of mind. That state of mind affects our state of being. It all starts with awareness! Become aware of not only what you are putting in your body, but what you are letting creep into you mind. Know that change is a process. Once you know where you are, its easier to know where to go. With internal change comes balance, with balance comes healing, with healing comes improved quality of life.