It is no secret that we all talk to ourselves. In fact, psychologists suggest that we talk to ourselves all the time, non-stop; 300 to 1,000 words per minute. Furthermore, 70 percent of that internal chatter tends to be negative. That means we have a constant running dialog with ourselves with a negative message. So the real question in my mind is… how could it not shape who we are?
In my upcoming book, The Opposite Man, I talk a great deal about how our past experiences determine who we are in the present. In that sense, our environment has the ability to mold and shape us into who we become. But, it’s not as black and white as you may think. Just because you grow up in an abusive environment does not mean you will continue that same pattern of behavior – either continuing to be a victim as an adult or becoming an abuser who victimizes others.
The reality is, our past experiences do shape us. But it’s not so much the actual events that shape us as it is how we process those events in our mind. This is our mindset, and it controls our outcome. Whether you are a wounded soldier returning from Afghanistan, a victim of childhood abuse or a stressed out fortune 500 company CEO, your success or failure is determined in your mind. And that mindset is developed long before those events ever take place in reality.
A victim mindset will lead to a victim outcome every time. People have died from hypothermia after being accidentally locked in a freezer overnight, only to have it later discovered that the freezer wasn’t even working. These people convinced themselves they were freezing to death and they did. People have been known to die from a non-fatal gunshot wound, because they convinced themselves they were going to die.
Conversely, people have survived tremendous feats because they had a positive mindset. One night, a female police officer was followed home after her shift by a car full of would be robbers. When she got out of her car in her driveway, they attacked her and shot her several times. One of the gunshots was a “fatal injury” after piercing her heart. Furious at her attackers, she returned gunfire killing one of the suspects while the others fled injured. She lived to tell her story and made a full recovery. How is it possible she survived while the person locked in the inoperable freezer died? Mindset.
Our mindset is in large shaped by our internal dialogue with ourselves. It’s not the only factor, there are other things such as resilience and coping skills, but even those are formed and contoured by our constant internal chatter. We may not be able to control the events in our lives, but we control how we respond to them and therefore we control the outcome. This is done through our self-conditioning.
I have been on both sides of this coin. Having grown up in an environment of chaos and abuse, the power of my internal dialogue led me to put a loaded gun in my mouth in an attempt to just end it all. I couldn’t cope or deal with the events of my life and I talked myself into this easy escape. My thoughts were sad, depressed, self-loathing and scared. That event was also a pivotal moment in my life wherein I decided to change my path.
It all began with the conversation I was having with myself. I had to change that internal dialogue. No longer could I tell myself I had no reason to live or my life was horrible. I had to tell myself to take control of my life and that I could control my destiny. The conversation within me had to change from ‘I cannot be happy and successful’ to ‘I will be happy and successful.’
We have all experienced moments or period of sadness, depression or even anger. What were your thoughts in those moments? It’s likely those thoughts perpetuated that situation. A negative internal chatter makes the situation prolonged and keeps us in that moment. This slows the healing process. In fact, sometimes we never heal because our internal dialogue keeps us in a victim state indefinitely.
It’s unrealistic to suggest we will never experience sadness or depression over an event in our lives – we will. But, the sooner we can change that conversation in our head from negative to positive, the sooner we will recover from those instances and get our life back on track – moving in a positive forward.
If you are unhappy, depressed, angry or even self-loathing, it is because that is the conversation you are having with yourself. If you were in an environment where you were told negative things about yourself all day long, we would call that psychological abuse. So, why then do we tolerate that from ourselves?
Changing this internal dialogue is how we create a positive and lasting mindset. We have the ability to control the tone of that internal conversation. It certainly won’t change overnight and it takes practice, but once you can master it, you can control your mind. The sooner you can control your mind, the sooner you can control your outcome.
Having a positive mindset creates a Teflon coating over us. Even when things tend to go wrong, we have the ability to let those experiences bounce off of us more easily. If something devastating happens to us, we have the ability to process that event and recover faster. Having a positive mindset is a lifestyle and it creates a different outcome. You will notice you physically feel better and can deal with stress better on a daily basis. Opportunities will begin to present themselves to you, because you have now opened your mind to the possibilities of new outcomes.
So the question is…What have you told yourself today? Change that conversation and you will change who you are. Remember, our lives are shaped in our own minds long before we live them in the moment.
Don’t forget… to get the rest of this powerful message and strategies on creating a powerful mindset, look for my upcoming book, The Opposite Man…coming soon.
One Final Tip – psychologist suggest that the last 45 minutes before you go to sleep is the most important time of the day psychologically. You will remember this period six times more than any other period of the day. This is a great time to create that positive internal dialog and have positive self-affirmations.