Monday, March 22, 2010

Check the Self Talk

This one is slightly off topic, in that, it's not really about conflict resolution, though actually, now that I think about it, perhaps it is. Perhaps it's about resolving the conflict we create in ourselves. Hmmmmmm?

This evening I was chatting with a very special lady on facebook, and made a comment about my self talk and she said "sounds like a blog post" and I am.

A few weeks ago, prompted about a comment I read about judging ourselves and others harshly, I decided to pay attention to my self talk. This is not something that is new to me. Having taught a spiritual healing 12 step for several years, "self talk" is something that we learned to be cognitive about. What we tell ourselves about ourselves is what we believe. Where the new learning came in, was the idea that how we (meaning, I) self talk is a good indicator on whether we (meaning, I) judge harshly or not.

Here is what I mean. Let's say I have a "should", in that, there is something that I "should" or "should not" do. I either don't it, or I do it, either way, I've blown my "should". Ideally, when I blow a "should" I am best served by a reaction that is both compassionate and forgiving towards myself. By that I mean, observe the behavior without assigning a harsh meaning or judgement to it, as in "Ok, I did or I didn't do something (that I "should"), now what am I going to do about it, and how am I going to learn from it?"

Observe the behavior, learn from it, try not to do it again. Period. That is how we learn and grow.

But what I tend to do instead, is judge myself as having failed, and berate myself for the failure. My judging self talk can be quite harsh...."you idiot", "how stupid can you get", etc etc. This kind of self talk does not motivate change; you cannot learn from it; it only "punishs". And no matter what anyone says, we humans do not learn and grow from punishment. We might change some outward behavior to avoid more punishment, but the heart remains the same.

I believe that the more we judge ourselves by harsh self talk, the more we are determined to "get it right", (to avoid those feelings of failure), the more we strive, the more we fail, and the more the cycle continues, until we spiral, perhaps even into depression. Judging self talk becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Rather simply observing the behavior of "I did" or "did not", we begin to believe "I am" or "am not" in "I am stupid" or "I am not good".

The scary thing....if I observe and judge my own behavior this way, what is stopping me from observing and judging another's behavior in the exactly the same way. If I see their behavior, and do not agree with it, my thoughts will tend to "oh, that's stupid", or "what an idiot". How, with those ideas in my head about that person, can I expect a compassionate, authentic relationship with them?

As I said earlier tonight in the chat, we (or perhaps just me) need to learn compassion and empathy towards ourselves so that we can have compassion and empathy towards others. I really do believe that you can't have one without the other. Jesus said, "love God, and love others, as you love yourself". Perhaps He could just as easily said "you will love God, and you will love others, the same way you love yourself".

Just a thought.

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