From Self-Talk to Inner Peace
I’m sure that you’ve all read about self-talk. The internal dialogue of words and thoughts that never seems to stop. For many years, psychologists have divided self-talk into positive and negative. Of course, we’re somehow supposed to stop the self-critical jabber and emphasize those that validate us. But has that really worked for you? Have you ever wondered how to go from self-talk to inner peace?
As a practicing clinician with thousands of patients I tried all these cognitive techniques both for myself and my clients. Trust me on this: The endless stream of chatter called self-talk stops briefly and then continues unabated.
If you don’t believe me, sit quietly, if you can, and observe your own mind. No matter how blue the sky appears to be, soon the clouds will come and mar the perfection. So then, is it really possible to journey from self-talk to inner peace?
From Self-Talk to Inner Peace: Reality Can be Hard to Take
Plus, reality can be hard to take. Even roses come with thorns. Disappointments, betrayal and loss. Sickness, suffering and death come into our lives. So there is ample opportunity to go south in your mind about other people, situations, and things in addition to harping on yourself.
We all say we want to be happy and at peace. But it is hard and at times seems impossible to achieve. As if in a looped tape, regrets about the past and fears of the future run us ragged. Our minds run over and over on a negative groove that causes suffering. Great suffering. In the face of all this negative self-talk and the upset, stress and anxiety we need a big-time force to help us. Something that allows us to handle the thorns of life with acceptance and serenity. And helps us smell and enjoy the many roses strewn in our paths!
From Self-Talk to Inner Peace: Be Open to the Spiritual Dimension
Yet, there is “something” that has worked to alleviate suffering for thousands of years. It is the willingness to open to the spiritual dimension. As the great philosopher, Teilhard de Chardin, once said:
“You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.”
Relief from pain is ours if we can turn to a spiritual practice, a Higher Power (HP) or the God of our understanding. We can even turn to a HP that we can’t or don’t understand. Simply to be willing to try such a thing gives you a clearinghouse for your resentments, pain, and upset; a balm for your spirit; and renewed faith in life and love.
Maybe the idea of “God” turns you off. You may think of yourself as an agnostic, atheist, or rationalist. If so, the only thing I want you to consider is that there seems to be much more going on here. Maybe you have heard certain music that sent you to another dimension of bliss. Or you have magical experiences with wildlife or places in nature that bring you soaring spiritual feelings. Or you have noticed synchronicities: You get a gut feeling that a particular event, like bumping into an old best friend, is going to happen, and there she is right in the middle of the street in a bustling city. These experiences suggest that there are many things happening that are beyond our awareness and understanding. And just maybe a power or force underlies all there is.
From Self-Talk to Inner Peace: What Does the Research Show?
There are tons of benefits from spiritual practice designed to connect us to a higher power. Studies show that prayer and meditation can and do heal. Even when prayer takes place at a distance from a sick person, and those who are praying do not know those they are helping, there is a positive and healing physical effect. Thousands of studies show that meditation strengthens the immune system, helps heart disease, asthma, type II diabetes, PMS and chronic pain. Meditation also lowers stress, anxiety, fear, and blood pressure while increasing feelings of being in the present and in a state of connection, compassion and serenity.
It is so important I have a free bonus meditation designed to help you build self-love based on the archetype of an unconditionally loving mother (not your real mother, even if she was unconditionally caring!). If the word “mother” brings negative associations to mind, you can substitute “angel” or “goddess.” You can download it here. This 15-minute MP3 will help move you from self-talk to inner peace. It’s an invaluable tool designed to start or end your day in a beautiful and serene state.
I love this quote from long-time meditator, (and drummer), Ringo Starr:
“At the end of the day, I can end up just totally wacky, because I’ve made mountains out of molehills. With meditation, I can keep them as molehills.”
From Self-Talk to Inner Peace: Connect to Something Greater than Yourself
Whether through meditation or prayer, music or nature, please be willing to open yourself to a Higher Power or Something Greater than yourself. It could be life; the universe, of which we are but a speck; spirit, light, angels, power animals, or love itself. When you connect to Something Greater, no matter how you understand it, you don’t have to be alone and make it all happen in your life by sheer will. Over time you develop a sense that the universe is benevolent and will provide support for you, even when things seem to be shockingly negative or your life is falling apart.
This is the ultimate soothing experience that allows you to be PRESENT and able to experience what is happening for real without negative or fearful stories in your head. Don’t get stuck in the ego’s swamp of negativity and suffering.
From Self-Talk to Inner Peace: Freeing Yourself from Suffering
Most of the time we hold on to the notion that we are separate and disconnected from a HP or God. This is the ego’s job. Yes, it keeps us physically safe and is useful in constructing our identities to be able to build our lives. But when the ego takes over too much there is hell to pay. Often our attention is so focused on being right, “knowing” what is best for ourselves and others and “knowing” whether some event, situation or person is good or bad.
Whether we admit it or not we often pretend to ourselves that we run the universe–our own little universe of ourselves, our family, friends and work associates. At least that we know how it SHOULD be run. Especially when it comes to our men and our kids. And we have the most benevolent intentions, only watching out for their health and happiness, of course. We want to be totally helpful and we absolutely know what is best for most everybody.
I call this Playing God. Who do you think is hurt the most by you being on your ego’s high horse? Your partner? Your children? Others? Yes, they are hurt, but not as much as this one person.
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From Self-Talk to Inner Peace: Nobody Follows Your Script
Because everything rests on your shoulders. (Sound familiar?) When things fall apart, the blame is on you. And you have no trust that the falling apart may be the springboard of a larger plan for good. When things are going well the pressure is all on you to KEEP it successful and to get others to cooperate with your idea about how they should be and act, even in a so-called “good” situation.
Your loved ones rarely follow your script for what is best for them. And let’s be honest, you don’t even follow your own prescriptions and plans for what is best for you. Being totally in charge in your isolated ego identity is like pushing a rock up a hill that keeps falling down on your head. It is exhausting.
Even worse, playing God a recipe for disappointment and anxiety up the wazoo. Your judgments are off to begin with. You break your leg and you get all upset and worried to death about missing work. But while at home you begin writing that awesome memoir that’s been simmering inside for decades. Bad or good? You get a promotion at work, but wind up working 11 hours a day and having fights with your boyfriend. Good or Bad? All that suffering we do when things are challenging is typically for no reason at all. And all that counting our chickens and lining up our ducks that we do when there is even a small success never unfolds as we think it should. And so it goes.
From Self-Talk to Inner Peace: Just Surrender and Float on Downstream
So why not stop your struggling and float on downstream? Why not surrender to something greater? Why not imagine it all in the hands of a benevolent Force or God(dess)? Instead of your hands. Just for this hour? This day?
Invite your HP to infuse you and your life with divine love, healing, and inspiration. For those with drinking, drugging, and food issues I also recommend 12-step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Overeaters Anonymous, and the like. These meetings are oases of love and spiritual connection and set you up for selfless service and serenity. If none of these appeal, don’t give up. You could also try renewing a religious practice you learned in childhood. Or you could seek out a new church, synagogue, or fellowship that calls to you. Just make it a living spiritual practice instead of rote prayer.
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As a relationship expert, I've helped thousands of women get the love they want-even when it seemed impossible. I'm Dr. Diana Kirschner. You might know me from my PBS Special, seen me on Oprah, or have read one of my bestselling books.
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