December 14, 2015

Our internal dialogue

It’s finals week and I just finished all the grading of my student’s last project. In that project, there was a reflection portion where they comment of areas of the course which were the most influential for them personally. In the course we cover everything from nutrition, physical activity, sexual health, cancer, emotional health, stress, etc. And can I tell you something? Most students list a series of topics and concepts which were most influential. But one item that comes up frequently- emotional health. Our self talk, body image, our internal dialogue.
Negative self talk and body image doesn’t discriminate. Male, female, older, younger, rural, urban, ethnicity, etc. And the issue is that sometimes we are not nice to ourselves. Sometimes we wouldn’t be our own friend. 
Most of us are smart enough to know the main concepts of changing certain behaviors. For example, let’s say weight loss. We all would agree that eating healthier, watching our portion sizes, tracking our calories, and increasing our intensity and frequency of exercise are the main concepts to lose weight- in a healthy way. 
However there’s also that mental state. The self talk. The conversations that occur that nobody knows about because they are hidden in your head. It can influence our motivation, comparison to others, unrealistic expectations, distorted perceptions of reality, etc. 
And continuous and hurtful negative internal dialogue can influence our self esteem, self efficacy (the belief that we can do something), and self confidence, to name a few. Our self talk is so influential that it impacts our behaviors and sometimes, how we treat others. 
Here’s the thing- we can all take some action steps to improve our internal dialogue. 

  • Create a positive support system
  • Set reminders in visual locations- i.e. positive affirmations or quotes on the bathroom mirror, in your planner/schedule book, post its on your car dashboard, etc. 
  • Sign up for an email listserv for daily reminders, scripture, quotes, etc.
  • Communicate with others whom you trust. Express your feelings- frequently
  • Keep a gratitude journal- the only things you can write in there are things you are thankful for
  • See a counselor
  • Establish internal dialogue boundaries
  • Dig deeper into your spiritual wellness for true meaning and your value
  • Meditate
When reviewing the reflections of my students, I was constantly reminded that we can forget how awesome we really are. We let our mind wander without boundaries. 
But surrounding ourselves with people who positively support us, encourage us, and whom we trust is key. Every thought influences us in unbelievable ways. Almost like a ripple effect in the ocean. 
That’s one reason why this little part of the online world is named WellFitHappy. It’s because we can all strive for our own positive well-being (well), aiming for physical health (fit), and deciding to be happy in a too often negative world (happy). 

So take one more step today to choose happiness. Choose positive thoughts. Choose belief in yourself regardless of the world around you. With internal dialogue boundaries, we can guide our thoughts to eventually remain on the positive side of the fence. 

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