Being able to communicate effectively with others is important, but being able to do it with yourself is even more important! If you cannot understand what it is that your mind and body want, you will likely be held back from many things. What is it that you are telling yourself when you are experiencing fear, for example? Keeping your fears to yourself and not expressing them in any way can prevent you from overcoming them.
What if I told you that if you practice the following three steps when communicating with yourself you will feel much better about yourself and be more likely to overcome your fears? One of the most important skills that I use in my Karma Coaching Method is The Imago Dialogue technique, used in Imago Relationship Therapy developed by Dr. Harville Hendrix. While this dialogue was developed to assist hurting relationships and helping couples to be reattached in love, I found this method extremely helpful in assisting in other relationships including with yourself.
The first step: Mirror or reflect on what it is that you are feeling
This essentially means that you need to repeat what you are feeling and naming the emotion. Sometimes when we are overwhelmed by large and various emotions, our brain can get confused about what it is we are scared, upset, or happy about. By reflecting on what it is you are feeling, you will have a much easier time facing your fears and addressing your emotions. The most important thing is that during this step you are NOT allowed to criticize or modify what you are feeling. Let’s give an example: you are terrified of flying on an airplane.
Step 1: I am scared, anxious, and uncomfortable with the idea of flying on a plane.
The second step: Validate yourself
Your feelings are valid, even though you may second guess yourself. Tell yourself that what you say makes sense and that you are NOT crazy to feel this way and by understanding yourself.
Step 2: It makes sense that I am scared to fly on planes. I have read many stories about plane crashes and do not want that to happen to me on a flight.
The third step: show yourself empathy
This means that you will be considerate of your emotions and attend to them.
One way to do this is by using phrases such as: “I can now see how this makes you feel scared...”
In addition to utilizing the Imago Dialogue technique in self-communication, it is important to keep in mind some other ways you can communicate with yourself better. Here are some more tips and tricks to do so:
Tip # 1 Say your name out loud!
There are studies that show that when talking to oneself, saying their name is effective in increasing motivation and self-support. For example, when boarding a plane and beginning to feel the jitters, tell yourself, “Limor, you can do this!”
Tip # 2 Use meditation to stay in the present moment
A study from Michigan Technological University found that even one hour of meditation reduces anxiety levels and can increase a person’s calmness. By meditating, it will be much easier to communicate yourself as opposed to being in a stressed environment with your mind all over the place.
Tip #3 Come from a place of love and support rather than judgement
Essentially, treat yourself how you want to be treated! If someone else saw you scared and anxious waiting for a plane to take off, and approached you saying, “get over it,” how would that make you feel? Definitely not more calm and encouraged to face your fears. In order to improve yourself and face your fears, you need to treat yourself with kindness and words of encouragement.
The reason it is so important to talk to yourself is because we often tend to seek validation from others when the first important person that needs to validate you is yourself. The simplest way of doing it is pretending that you are your own best friend and when you feel the need to go ask someone for advice ask yourself first and answer as if your best friend or someone in need will ask you. This might sound silly and you might think that talking to yourself is strange or weird like many of my teens tell me, but self-talk is extremely important that, with practice, can lead to taking the next step towards freedom from fear. After all, what we tell ourselves is most important!