Words Matter

By Polly Douse, MMFT

What is your inner dialogue telling you?

I’ve always been fascinated with words. With the right delivery, they can instill confidence, courage, and inspiration. They can also tear us down, weigh on our emotions, and hinder us from our full potential. In my journey as a therapist, I often find myself talking with others about their inner dialogue and processing my inner dialogue as well.

Recently, I read Frank Anderson’s book, Transcending Trauma, about internal family systems. In the therapy world, we call this method IFS. Without going into too much detail, IFS focuses on the different parts of everyone that make up his, her, or their whole. Our parts tend to fall into three categories: firefighters, exiles, and managers. Then there is the core part of you called the Self.

At first, this sounded a little odd to me, but as I continued exploring and studying IFS, I became fascinated with what I was finding my parts telling me when I addressed them and how this plays out in therapy for clients, too.

Being present with yourself can be challenging and rewarding. What do you tell yourself daily? When you look at your face in the mirror in the morning are you greeting yourself with positive words of affirmation or critical messages? When you get home after a long day, do you thank your body for carrying you through the day or do you complain about being exhausted?

We are bombarded with ads all day long on the computer, our phones, the radio, podcasts, or streaming services. Many of the ads have the same theme, you are not good enough, you need this to be happy, you are lacking, and the list goes continues. How much do these outside messages impact you?

If you think back to your childhood, think back to the messages your family, friends, teachers, or culture told you. How did those words positively or negatively impact the inner dialogue you have today?

If you are reading this thinking, I don’t really have time to sit and be present in my thoughts, I am busy with fill-in-the-blank: working, raising children, completing research, worrying about a mortgage, traveling, enjoying retirement, studying, etc. I encourage you to take a few minutes, close your eyes, turn off your phone, TV, or computer, and be still.

Take a deep breath and ask yourself what you need. Listen and see if a part of you responds. I wonder what you will discover. If you will meet that part with openness or if it will be challenging. We are all on different journeys and paths, and it may surprise you to hear what your parts need.   

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