What you say to yourself is more important than you think.
And much of what you say to yourself didn’t even come from you in the fist place.
It came from Mommy and Daddy.
As John K. Pollard, III explains in Self Parenting: The Complete Guide to Your Inner Conversations:
“You were biologically programmed from birth to mimic your parents’ behavior to serve as a model or template to develop your own style of behavior. Watching them was your way of learning how to become an adult.”
When you were little, you also subconsciously picked up the common ways that other authority figures spoke to you. And the ways they trained you to survive in the adult world. (Talk about a lot of dysfunctional baggage.)
The voices inside your head
Over time, all those voices developed into one of the main inner voices you still hear today: your Inner Parent, or voice of reason.
Or Ego, as Pollard refers to it in his book.
Here at Mindful Construct, we refer to the Ego as simply the shadow of the Inner Child (the other main inner voice).
To avoid confusion over the use of terms — when Pollard mentions the Ego, he’s talking about that part of you that tries to strike a balance between what you want, and what’s acceptable in society.
Self Parenting: The Complete Guide to Your Inner Conversations
In Self Parenting: The Complete Guide to Your Inner Conversations, Pollard writes about the inner conversations between your Inner Parent and your Inner Child, and why paying attention to them is key to your happiness and success.
Self Parenting is an effective and easy way to jump start the following 5-step process to being more mindful of your self talk.
Step 1: Accept self talk as normal
The first step is the hardest: not doubting what you hear — or what you think you hear.
It’s not socially acceptable to talk to yourself in public — you’re supposed to talk to other people.
So it takes some practice just to talk to yourself in private. Or at least eavesdrop on a conversation that’s already going on.
To do this, you need to remind yourself that it’s perfectly normal to hear these conversations. They simply reflect your thoughts and feelings, which are definitely real, even if subconscious.
According to Pollard:
“Your thoughts, judgments, and analyses represent your Inner Parent.
Your feelings, emotions, and responses are your Inner Child.”
So your self talk embodies your thoughts, judgments, analyses, feelings, emotions, and responses… through words.
There’s nothing weird about that. In fact, it’s very useful.
Step 2: Practice listening and conversing
After you’ve accepted self talk as a natural part of life, you’ll need to get really good at identifying which voices are talking at a given time.
Self Parenting is a 257-page, straightforward, and simple guide on how to start recognizing your inner voices. It includes concrete exercises to start recording your inner conversations so that you can better understand what’s going on inside your head. And it’s written in large font and packed with fun illustrations that your Inner Child will enjoy.
I personally didn’t refer to the exercises very often, because by the time I read the book, I (my Inner Parent) was already talking with my Inner Child on a daily basis. But if you’re looking for some extra support, the exercises will get you started.
And while Pollard advises continuing daily 30-minute sessions where you converse with your Inner Child, I take a more flexible stance. Some days more time is needed, some days very little time is needed, and some days, the conversation takes place through communication that’s not as verbal.
Step 3: Practice emoting
That’s because the Inner Child, being the voice of emotion, has messages that are not always so easily translated into language. Sometimes a two-year old would rather use a fit, tears, or slobber to convey a message. And part of paying attention to your Inner Child is to recognize when words aren’t quite enough.
In fact, there are times when trying to put all your feelings into words ends up intellectualizing, and invalidating, the emotional experience. So let the words come when they come, but don’t try to force them.
Another part of paying attention to your Inner Child is recognizing when emoting is more suitable. Because the Inner Child is your emotional self. If they can communicate their needs through words, that’s great — it makes the parenting easier. But that’s ideal. It’s not always the case. This is one subject that Pollard doesn’t get into in the book.
Pollard does explain, however, the importance of not neglecting your Inner Child, or letting it spiral out of control:
“Left unchecked and free to influence your Inner Conversations, the negative Inner Child can turn an otherwise normal person into an impulsive spender, or an alcoholic. It can cause any variety of addictive or compulsive behaviors such as food binging, excessive dieting, or chemical dependencies.”
Perhaps the easiest way to “leave your negative Inner Child (read: Ego) unchecked”… is by neglecting your emotions.
(Pollard refers to the negative Inner Child as having been “neglected, beaten, abused physically or mentally,” etc. The self-destructive behaviors listed above are seen by the wounded Inner Child as defense mechanisms.)
This is why working with all of your emotions is so important.
Step 4: Learn how to recognize and resolve inner conflicts
Once you’re able to listen to you inner conversations, and allow you Inner Child to express themself through emotion, you’ll be better prepared to deal with inner conflicts.
These occur when your Inner Parent/voice of reason wants to do one thing, and your Inner Child/intuition wants to do another.
And this happens all the time.
Pollard does a thorough job of working out the steps of identifying and resolving such conflicts.
He also explains why you need to resolve these conflicts:
“Happiness, fulfillment, and meaning in your life are the natural consequences of positive, loving, and nurturing Self-Parenting.”
And that’s the ticket to success we promote here at Mindful Construct.
It all boils down to how healthy your relationship with yourself is — which includes your relationship with all of you emotions.
Step 5: Train your Inner Parent to be the best they can be
This takes a lot of practice. Tons of mistakes too.
And most of all, self commitment.
One way to remain committed is to educate yourself on healthy parenting styles, psychology, and of course, healthy self-parenting styles.
Because in the end, it’s about endurance, and continual growth. Which you maintain through greater mindfulness — of your self talk and the emotional language of your Inner Child.
How to jump start these 5 steps today
So if you’re ready to jump start this 5-step process of being more mindful of your self talk, get a copy of John K. Pollard’s Self Parenting: The Complete Guide to Your Inner Conversations.
It’s a precious book on my shelf that I return to when I want a clear reminder of how important those inner voices are. And why mindfulness of self talk is one of the biggest investments you can make in yourself.
If you have any questions or comments about the book or this 5-step process, feel free to share them below.