Srinivas Rao, host of the Unmistakable Creative podcasts. asked marketing guru Seth Godin in a recent interview how we can turn our inner monologue – the thoughts and self-talk constantly running through our heads – into something that serves us rather than sabotages us. Seth said the first step is becoming aware that a monologue even exists.
“A goldfish doesn’t notice the water in his tank,” he said.
I love this analogy and the vivid image it conjures. We must consciously choose to pay close attention to our lives, to see the water we’re swimming through and how it influences our thoughts, emotions and behaviours.
Seth had two pieces of advice to flip the self-talk on its head.
- The first is to silence the monologue. To recognise that we’re not our thoughts. There is a core self that is separate and unmoved from both good and bad thoughts that come and go. Meditation and mindfulness are essential in this pursuit. I use an app called Headspace and find 15 minutes of guided mindfulness exercises every morning helps me orient myself to the day.
- Seth said most people assume their monologue is unchangeable, set in stone. So we seek reassurances and reinforcement of this belief. Instead, we need to develop a practice or habit that reminds us what we’re capable of, that will keep the negative thoughts at bay. A daily journal recording our accomplishments and new endeavours that have gone well can be a great resource to look back on and show us how far we’ve come.
One last related thought to this. Seth said that he doesn’t allow comments on his daily blog as a way of insulating himself from the darker side of human behaviour on the web. “Hearing negative feedback from strangers I don’t have a relationship with will do nothing but push me to hide,” he said. “They’re not there so I can’t look at them.”
Seeing ourselves as separate from the inner monologue and sign-posting the successes we’ve had in the past will allow you the best possible environment to thrive in. By all means, seek out and take action on constructive criticism from the people who trust, but set up safeguards in your life as you go.
This post is dedicated to my mom who always encourages me to analyse and change the thoughts set on repeat. It’s a journey, but we get a little further each day!