Noticing Your Self Talk

I’ve written before about how the labels we assign impact our view of a situation; even our emotions. This morning, I was trying to take a quiet moment to prepare for teaching yoga today. Josh had been playing alone with his toys on the porch and he approached me with a ball, throwing it at me with the sheer exuberance of a toddler, asking me to play with him. Without missing a beat, I said to myself, “this child is wearing me out.” But then I did something else. I noticed the label (and trust me, I resort to this very same six-word statement more than I care to admit) that I had given to the moment. Moreover, I recognized that by making this statement to myself, I was locking myself out of the moment completely–or at least out of accessing the joy of the moment. Then I thought, how about instead I say to myself, “this child is making me more youthful” or “this child is giving me reason to move and experience the joy of this moment.” I may have preferred a quiet moment to prepare for yoga, but life sort of gives you want you need. And, of course, this noticing gave me the theme for my yoga class today.

I’ve also been observing this same labeling tendency in my daughter. Yesterday, she called me on the phone, bubbling over with enthusiasm about some impromptu theater production she’d taken part in that ended up in the tunnels or catacombs under the chapel on her campus. I really didn’t understand what she was talking about, but I loved hearing the excitement in her voice. And I’ve heard her talk so many times about the great friends she’s made at college or her fantastic professors (all on a first name basis at her college). But occasionally, I get the unhappy Sunday afternoon phone call where she tells me, “I guess I just don’t like college.” I invite her to move beyond this statement to what specific aspect of college she is currently not enjoying. I remind her of all the things I know she likes about college. I then tell her, “by assigning this label, you are keeping yourself from the underlying message of the moment.” Perhaps it is about not leaving the most difficult homework until Sunday afternoon. Or perhaps it is about accepting that sometimes, homework will win out over social events and vice versa. And it is hard to find that balance, but, I tell her, “you will be struggling to find that balance all of your life, so why not start here.” Once she can break through the label “I don’t like college” and really discover what is causing her resistance to the present moment, she can often soften around the resistance and find her way to some sort of acceptance.

The present moment offers spaciousness; a place to open to the life unfolding around us. Over the next day or two, try to notice any labels you assign that might be preventing you from fully accessing the present moment. The present moment is your life and it is happening right now. Go ahead and put down the routine labels. Enter your now.

  1. Sarah said:

    This is good, Heidi. We often remind our children to tell themselves the truth and not lies (we need to remind ourselves of this, as well). You’re really helping Hannah to live in the moment and to notice the good in things…bravo!

  2. Julie Coleman said:

    What a good lesson, Heidi! I’m going to keep this in mind and pay more attention to the overarching labels I use.

  3. I have recently been noticing my self talk. Overwhelmed with recent events in my life, I am depleted and lethargic. I have been scolding myself for not getting done the things I would typically do in a day. I’ve been sitting outside for short spells, taking in the budding trees and other plant life in my yard, observing birds and squirrels. And when I looked at all of the weeding and trimming and raking and planting that I want to do, I am disappointed that I cannot muster up the energy. Then, I realized that I’ve been telling myself over and over again that I just don’t have the energy. And that has to stop! Now, I’m forcing my brain to focus on the bit of energy that I do have, like the little engine that could, “I think I can, etc.” It seems to be working so far. I’m getting more and more accomplished each day and feeling better. Even returned to yoga class today:-)

    • Hydie said:

      So funny, this weekend, I was commenting to my husband that I was finding the early spring unsettling. In particular, I am missing my typical March-April period of sitting in my house, reading–not yet having to worry about yard work but no longer really having to deal with much snow. I told him, I feel guilty for not being out there when all of the neighbors are working in their yards. He told me that he didn’t feel one bit guilty (he really doesn’t do guilt). He then said to me, “Heidi, so much of your pain is self-inflicted and from an internal, not an external source.” Bugged me a little, but got me thinking. If my neighbors aren’t coming over complaining about my yard, why am I creating make-believe neighbors who complain inside my head?

      • So funny! We have one elderly lady on our street who is an expert gardener. Her yard is stunning every day of the year. Everyone else has just given up trying to compete!

  4. Nicole said:

    I loved this post!!! Soooo me!!!!! Instead of getting cranky and thinking that the kids are driving me crazy and I am tired, blah, blah, blah…..I am going to start saying how lucky I am to have healthy kids that l

  5. Nicole said:

    I loved this post. It is sooooo me!!!! I am going to stop complaining about being tired, having my tv show interrupted, blah, blah, blah…..when the kids “torment” me….I am now going to think how lucky I am that I have healthy kids who love me and want to play wih me and what a great bonding experience playing together is…….at least I am going to try!!!!

    • Hydie said:

      Yes, it is real difficult to stick with but very helpful. Our thought directly impact our feelings and so much of our thought is just habitual dribble that we do all the time–so we just keep repeating negative feelings when repeating negative thoughts.

      But you know, I also think there are the kind of mothers that love pitching in on school projects, playing board games in the evenings, and making holiday cookies. And I think we’ve established that we aren’t those kind of mothers. And so we’ve got to not kick ourselves around for not being that kind of mother either. Just think how much your kids are learning from you. They will grow up knowing how strong, and intelligent you are and what an important role you play in your community. And they’ll be so proud and inspired!

      Hey–thank you so much for the generous donation towards our Walk for Talk. So very appreciated!

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