This phrase is a popular dialogue from the movie Taxi Driver when Robert De Niro is talking to himself in the mirror. It may even remind you of Amitabh Bachchan’s iconic drunk scene in Amar Akbar Anthony, where he interacts extensively with his reflection in the mirror, even going so far as to apply a band-aid to the mirror. But it’s more than just a movie trope - talking to ourselves is something we do all day, every day.
How we talk to ourselves and what we say can have a huge impact on our feelings and motivations. Most of us aren’t actually talking out loud to ourselves - however, we are experiencing multiple thoughts that are typically directed to ourselves. If you’ve ever felt that your mind is ‘buzzing’, it’s likely that you’re experiencing multiple thoughts, worries, fears - all of which are profoundly impacting your emotions.
How do your thoughts impact your emotions? If you’re thinking to yourself - I’ve got to finish my work now, how could I get so behind? I haven’t been productive enough today …. Chances are that you’re increasing your stress levels, feeling pressured, and guilty. Even though the words aren’t said out loud, they still have a significant impact. What we say to ourselves in our head is very real, and strongly influences how we feel about ourselves and the world.
Flip the script, and observe the difference. If you’re thinking - wow, I’ve done enough, it’s ok to need a break, everyone makes mistakes…. You’re going to feel good, energized, reassured and even motivated to continue trying. Even repeating popular slogans like ‘Just do it’ or ‘Yes, you can’ instantly inspire and motivate one to action. Or remembering a loving conversation with a parent, or words of encouragement from a mentor can make you feel good.
And just like a good movie - it can’t be all positive or all negative. However, a consistent effort to keep your positive thoughts realistic and your negative self-talk reasonable can create a balanced and mature conversation in your head that can bring out the best in you. Talking to yourself with respect and compassion is the ‘band-aid’ that can help you feel calmer, more focused and confident.
Therapy is a great way to help you break the negative thought spiral and instead create a balanced voice in your head that works with your best interests in mind. If you are what you think - well then… don’t believe all your thoughts!