As we enter a new calendar year we often spend time reflecting on the old year and setting goals for the new one. This practice involves the thinking mind and how we use it to talk to ourselves. The voice in our heads is often judgmental and critical. It is important to recognize that thoughts and beliefs that focus on self-judgment do NOT lead to self-motivation!
When we choose to view ourselves through the lens of our “inner critics” we create more and more internal self- pressure. This stimulates the stress response in our bodies suppressing its natural healing mechanisms and blocking creativity and productivity.
For optimum health and success it is helpful to re-frame our resolutions and self-talk. We usually recognize that being hard on our children, friends, colleagues, etc. will not help them change, but we are incredibly hard on ourselves in our efforts to “improve.”
According to Stanford professor Bernard Roth: Your language shapes the way you approach your goals. The way you speak (to ourselves and others) not only affects how others perceive you; it also has the potential to shape your behavior.
So how can we re-frame the way we speak to ourselves in the new year?
Here are some examples of how swapping one word for another can make all the difference in how you approach your goals:
From psychiatrist Dr. Samantha Boardman: “The moment you hear yourself say ‘should,’ or even think it, pause, reflect and rephrase. Instead of ‘should’ try:
Next time I will…
I plan to…
I look forward to…”
From Martha Beck: “The fact is, we don’t have to do anything. We choose to do things with specific consequences. Different choices = different consequences.
This slight distinction has huge implications for your sense of personal power.”
Instead of “I have to” say: I want to – example: I have to do the laundry – I want to do the laundry ( I want to wear clean clothes.)
From Bernard Roth: Instead of “but” try “and”:
“I want to go to the movies, but I have work to do.” Instead, try saying, “I want to go to the movies, and I have work to do.” …when you use the word and, “your brain gets to consider how it can deal with both parts of the sentence.”
The act of paying attention to our self- talk in this way empowers us. We build self- compassion and resilience while promoting healing and well-being!
Remember – YOU hold the key!