Think About Your Thinking

“What in the world am I doing? I am totally out of my league. I don't belong here. What was I thinking?”

“Well, that was a nice lunch. I do wish I had told her about my real feelings. But then, the consequences would not be pretty. Maybe I did the right thing. No, I need to be more open with her if I want to honor myself. You know, my coach did say that honoring my self at all cost is the best thing for me. What the heck does honoring myself mean anyway?”

Sound familiar? This is Mind Chatter. What is your mind chatter practicing?

Mind chatter is the stuff we tell ourselves every day. Sometimes we lecture ourselves. We talk ourselves into or out of decisions. We second-guess ourselves. We figure things out. We rehearse.

That is the point of mind chatter – to rehearse difficult situations so we are more prepared to act out our most authentic selves. What happens, though, is we let our mind chatter take over. We give it a free ticket to roam our mind and stir up internal drama without our permission.

There is certainly a time and place for mind chatter. For example, when we have an upcoming job interview, we go over the expected questions and answers in our mind so we are as prepared as possible. When a speech is due tomorrow, we go over the points in our mind to solidify their meaning and clarity. That way, when we are giving the speech, it sounds like more of a specialty we have, instead of something we just threw together last night. Or, when we have a big decision to make, we go over the pros and cons of each choice in order to make the best possible decision at that time.

Those are the times for mind chatter. Without it, we could make spontaneous decisions without regard for the negative consequences or negative impact on ourselves and loved ones. We might sound like we are less educated or prepared than we are. Or, we could enter the interview with a poor attitude and perform poorly because we are not prepared.

Since there is a time and place for mind chatter, there is also a time and place to put it away. Once the job interview is over, review your performance, plan your follow up phone call, and then turn the chatter off. When the speech is over, review your performance, make notes for improvement, and then turn off the chatter. Finally, when the decision is made, evaluate the consequences, plan for residual effects, then turn off the chatter. There is no need to mindlessly continue to review, evaluate, think about, second-guess, regret, or re-do your actions in your mind.

Failing to turn off the chatter has several consequences. First, you are burning energy that could better be used on another topic. Why not use that 20 minutes of beating yourself up on planning to work toward a new goal? Or on writing the next chapter of your book?

Second, mind chatter can negatively affect our self appraisal. Self appraisal is the way and accuracy with which we evaluate our true self. It is your opinion of yourself. When we constantly second guess our decisions, time after time after time, we eventually come to believe that the thoughts are true. The second guessing becomes a belief that we cannot make good decisions. The constant review of the mistakes made in the speech becomes a belief that we are just no good at that skill.

Lastly, the dangerous part of mind chatter comes when we start to believe these thoughts, and then act on them. We avoid all speaking engagements – because we convinced ourselves, through mind chatter, that it is not possible to be successful. Or we begin to depend on others, who possibly do not know what is best for us, to make our decisions because we believe the thoughts about second guessing are true.

Now that you understand mind chatter and its consequences, take a few minutes to evaluate your own mind chatter.

What character does it have?
What is the tone you use when talking to yourself?
What types of things do you find yourself repeating?
During what activities do you find yourself absorbed in your thoughts?
What life events do you review over and over and over again?
What beliefs do your thoughts support?

Author's Bio: 

Sybil R Smith is a life coach and expressive arts therapist. She has a wide range of expertise, including music therapy, hospice, child psychotherapy, EMDR, and a M.A. degree in marriage and family therapy. She has helped clients deal with a range of issues including anxiety and panic disorders, life transitions, depression, and grief. Her mission is to show people how to live empowered lives so they can move past therapy and into forward motion. Sybil R Smith uses her training as a musician and performer to present creative ways to help move people through anxiety, depression, and grief to create smooth and joy-filled transitions. You can sign up for her thought-provoking EZine and meet her at