You know the voice inside your head that chats to you when everything is quiet? That’s your internal dialogue. It may speak a little differently for everyone, but we all have one.
Also known as your inner voice, your internal monologue or your consciousness. It is a fundamental part of human thought processing and is completely automatic. You can learn to ignore it or control it, but that voice inside your mind isn’t going anywhere – for good reason.
Some of you may have been blessed with calm and quiet minds that don’t chatter about everything and anything that crops up. I am not one of those people, and it seems I’m a part of an ever-increasing majority. As the world gets busier, our minds do too, and we have to work harder to sift through our internal dialogue to find anything worth our time.
There are several different types of internal dialogues.
We’ll typically experience all of them in a single day, but each person has their own go-to version. There’s subconscious, automatic thinking which processes our immediate reactions to the world without using words or noticeable conversation. Often without much thought, we quickly decide if things are good or bad – if we like something or if we do not.
Not many of our experiences require in-depth thought to come to a decision on how we feel, so our brains take control of it for us. For a lucky few, this is typically how they think on any normal day. What a joy it must be to breeze through with only a few moments in battle with your internal dialogue. It must be peaceful.
The ever more common, and much louder type of internal dialogue features a full conversation with yourself, chatting back and forth with a narrator in your head. Sometimes you’ll be speaking as if you were talking to yourself (“I am going to be okay”), or you’ll be addressing yourself as if you were someone else (“You are going to be okay”), or you might even talk as if you were multiple people, yourself and your mind (“We are going to be okay”).
Other times, you might find yourself in an exchange with another person, real or not, who exists inside your inner dialogue. It’s like when you rehearse a conversation in your mind (which never goes to plan).
Why Listen to Your Internal Dialogue?
Sometimes, we’re told to block out the noise in our minds. At others, we’re told to tune in and listen to the ruminations. It can be confusing to know what to do when you don’t like what your inner dialogue is coming up with. And in truth, the only correct response is to do a little of both.
By listening to your own mind, you can learn what’s making you tick.
When you feel down, anxious or negative, by focusing on the way your thoughts are working, you might notice what it is that’s getting you down. Having a negative internal dialogue will influence the way you experience life and how you see the world around you.
If the voice in your head, whether it be talking to you or about you, is reminding you of bad past experiences and pondering on the idea that you might not be good enough or smart enough, that will be what you believe and will influence how you act. Eventually, the active chatter will sink into your subconscious, and negativity will become a way of life.
It’s important to cultivate a positive self-talk
On the other hand, by purposefully adding positive thoughts to your internal dialogue and interrupting yourself when you realise that inner voice has been talking in harmful ways, you can take back control from the darkness.
Stay in tune with your thoughts and flood them with alternative thinking when you feel overwhelmed, anxious or sad. In turn, practicing this kind of self-love will seep into your automatic self-talk and become more common. This will allow you to feel more positive on a daily basis as a result.
When you don’t know what’s creating your feelings, or you don’t know why you reacted in such a way, tune in to the inner dialogue. The answers will be inside your thoughts when you take time to slow down and listen.
However, in total contrast, sometimes you could benefit from letting go.
When your emotions, thoughts and feelings have gotten too much and your internal dialogue is getting too loud, the best thing you can do for yourself is to tune out.
For those of us with busy monkey-minds and anxiety, it’s a great idea to meditate. It will help you let those constant thoughts and endless conversations with yourself go. When the mind space is clear of chatter and bouncing words and images, you can finally start to heal.
So, What Does Your Internal Dialogue Reveal?
The way we think can be very telling of who we are. A negative person will be stuck in constant negative thinking. Their self-talk will be flooded with constant criticism of themselves and the world around them. Nothing will be right or good enough.
If you think you’re falling victim to negativity, take a moment to notice your thoughts and the words you say inside your mind. What is that conversation about? Are you talking to yourself in a harmful way, or is a voice talking to you? These sorts of specifics are very telling of where your negativity stems from, your own opinion or someone else’s?
It’s important to allow positivity into your internal dialogue. Purposefully talk to yourself about what your grateful for or what you’re looking forward to. Get used to being friends with the narrator in your mind. It will alter your whole view of the world and what you put out into it.
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