Guest Post by Heathere Evans-Keenan
As PR professionals, our best thinking is spent targeting influencer groups with proactive engagement strategies, educating key audiences and moving them out of indifference to a product, service or issue.
Yet while we tend to all that externally-focused communicating, it’s what’s going on inside that gets really interesting.
Scientific research is conclusive concerning the intricate connection between mind and body. An important aspect of that mind-body-ness is self-talk, our own personal “internal communications” mechanism. For strategic communicators by trade, thinking in terms of self-talk as internal communications can be helpful.
We know that the best public relations and marketing programs include employees as core influencers, a group necessary for ensuring a cohesive message inside and outside the organization. The same principle applies when it comes to our inner narrative:
Self-talk can either help””or hinder””our ability to reach our maximum potential.
How We Get In Our Own Way
The inner conversation of human beings runs on a constant loop, making observations about absolutely everything. The issue is that this banter is often grounded in negativity, judgment and utterly conditional love. Perhaps your own inner voice has echoed one of these sentiments recently?
- If only I could be more organized – self-criticism
- I hate my [insert body part/facial feature] – self-cruelty
- She seems to have it all together, why can’t I? – self-comparison
- What a jerk! – judgment
- I’m never going to be able to get it all done – overwhelm
- What am I going to do about this? – worry
Self-criticism, self-cruelty, anxiety and other negative habits happen all day long, most often without us even being aware of the impact they’re having on us””until now.
Making the Unconscious, Conscious
Each time you think a thought, you are essentially forming and re-forming the inner workings of your own brain (wow!). Much the same way our bodies build muscle, every thought creates a neural pathway that grows stronger each time the same or a similar thought is present. These pathways in the brain become our core beliefs, which influence the way we perceive the world. After all, a belief is nothing more than a thought you repeatedly think:
- Life is hard.
- I have to do everything myself.
- I’m not good at math.
- Men aren’t trustworthy.
- I’m not good enough.
- No one really cares about me.
- My mom is driving me crazy!
When left unattended, this “muscular” neural network (a.k.a. your brain) operates like a self-fulfilling prophecy, causing you to look for (and often find) “proof” to back up the claims inside your mind.
This system shapes the way we live our lives, for better or worse.
As Dr. Habib Sadeghi, physician and co-founder of Be Hive of Healing Medical Center explains, “Each one of us internalizes and feeds negative thought patterns about ourselves and others. Negative thoughts and ”˜internal eye-rolling’ cause steady states of dis-ease inside our bodies, that, if ignored long enough and reinforced intensely enough, can turn into various diseases.”
No wonder 1 in 3 women get cancer today, and autoimmune disease has hit an all-time high with 10 women to 1 man contracting the illness. Women are attacking themselves from the inside.
What You Can Do About It
The good news is you can change your brain anytime you want. It’s called neuroplasticity, meaning your brain is a flexible organ that can create and strengthen new neural pathways, while letting others die off (just awe-inspiring).
The trick is to master inner thoughts and emotions, so you can claim more dominion over your beautiful mind. When you do, the whole dynamic shifts to improve health and enhance personal and professional effectiveness. Here are three simple steps:
1. Identify your negative thinking.
What causes your upset? Look at your relationships for these patterns. How do you relate to men, other women, siblings? What are your biggest complaints?
2. Are these thoughts serving you?
If not, fire that critic! Listen to how your body feels when you think the thought; be open to the possibility that your brain is getting in the way. Look deeper at these moments for opportunities to observe your core beliefs and actively choose a more self-supporting, inspiring and encouraging narrative.
These are the moments to actively practice being kinder and more loving to yourself.
3. Reframe your interpretation.
We see things through our own perceptual filters. There are lots of different ways to see things and you have a say in how you see them. Think of the way you would treat a dear friend in the same situation. Then, treat yourself the same way… or better!
You are incredibly powerful, with built-in resiliency that is profound. How you relate to yourself and respond to negative thoughts in your life is one big way you can influence your success and well-being. Simple practices like those above can evoke the very best in you and shift your experience in a positive direction.
Stay tuned to learn more about the AWE-some power of you in a free webinar, coming soon!
Image: Mark Bosky via Unsplash, CC Zero
Interested in mastering these tools? Heathere Evans-Keenan, APR, teaches teams and individuals how they can reach their full potential through effective communications practices, inside and out. Learn more about KEENAN PR‘s workshops and coaching or follow her on Twitter.
Excellent and crucial message, Heathere. Reminds me of when I used to hear that we all need to get out of the morass – that terrible state of mind that keeps you down and clouds your perspective. There’s great reward in resisting the negative and feeding the positive. And as you say, its not too hard redirect and reframe but you have to give it a try.
You’re absolutely right, Robert, and making that shift can be as simple as learning a few little tricks! Pessimism, self-judgement, resentment, hatred, and an excessive need for control drain us. Just noticing when you’re getting caught up in a negative thought and asking yourself, “Do I want to keep thinking this way? Why?” can have a profound effect. Thanks for your comment!