Guess who’s talking
This may sound like an odd title or even an obscure question but what I am alluding to hear is that voice in your head that you listen to quite regularly. The person who is talking is your inner-voice. This voice plays a huge part in our lives and we tend to listen quite intently to what we are being told. The trouble with this is that what we’re being told might not be too accurate.
Let’s take a scenario where you get in from work and it’s been a tough day. You’re tired so you tell yourself
1. that going to the gym might not be a good idea and
2. that a bit of a relaxing evening would be better for you.
Now without the context of the rest of your week’s activity and how much rest you have already partaken in it is difficult to say whether these statements are true or false. But the fact of the matter is I doubt you questioned either of these points. You take them at face value and act on them. In this case that means you don’t go to the gym and you have a relaxing evening in front of the TV.
Now for a one-off event that’s not the end of the world so let’s continue with the scenario. You’re watching the TV and there is a documentary about getting fit and the benefits of a good diet. You sit there and think, ‘right I’m getting up early tomorrow and doing a 3k run before work. You put your kit ready at the end of the bed, set the alarm and settle down for the night.
The next morning comes around, the alarm goes off and you hit the snooze button. You say to yourself
3. the bed is nice and warm and a few more minutes in bed will really set you up for the day
The alarm goes off again and you look out the window and it’s a bit frosted and now it is starting to rain. You say to yourself
4. I might be better off giving the run a miss as its cold and if I get a bit wet I’m liable to catch a cold and that would be very bad for me. Plus, I’ve worked hard this week and the extra rest will mean I’ll recover better.
Hopefully by now you are starting to recognise the pattern. Statements one to four in each of the above scenarios could be true or false and that is the point. In both cases you didn’t stop to police the thoughts (or beliefs). It is these inner voices (thoughts) that are running your show. If you don’t like the performance that you are seeing then you have got to change the show.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) works a lot in this area in that it looks at how you view events and then what behaviour this produces. Typically, in a lot of CBT texts people will talk about the ABC of a behaviour.
A is the activating or trigger event
B is the belief of value that this event brings up
C is the consequence (or action) that follows on from the belief.
It is a good habit to start policing these inner thoughts/voices. Become the annoying child who keeps asking why or is that true. If when you do this your answer is yes that’s true, then ask yourself WHY? When you give the answer to that then go around again. Is that true or false and if so why? By continually looping around in this way you will get to a core belief/value. This should then be used to form your decision.
The other thing you could do with the above scenario is to get a different focus. You’ll notice that point four (above) focusses on the negative outcomes. What outcome would there have been if you had focussed on the positive outcomes. So rather than 4 above we had said to ourselves
5. If I get up and do my run I will have completed my exercise for the day and I can feel very smug at work. When someone asks if I’m training tonight I can look them in the eye and say “I’d quite like to but I’ve already completed my training for the day”.
You can see that reframing your thoughts and policing your self-talk can help you achieve very different outcomes. This is something you need to practice for yourself for a while so you know how the conversation goes in your head. Once you have mastered this you can then talk to your clients about there rehearsed self-talk (or excuses). By helping them come up with better questions and answers and teaching them to question their self-talk, ultimately, they can move to a healthier lifestyle. These techniques are valid across all areas of our lives and will help you produce far more productive actions and results.