Improving your inner dialogue with a small language tweak

by Chaitali

“It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life. It’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power.”

We all understand the importance of communication. In fact our whole life is a series of conversations – with others and most importantly with ourselves. The mere act of communicating can be difficult, which involves putting our points across in a way that they are understood but nothing beats the repercussions of a BAD INNER DIALOGUE

What is an inner dialogue? It’s the act of conversing with ourselves in our heads. The continuous chatter of thoughts and the meanings we assign to them on a minute to minute basis. Should I do this or not? I’m being so stupid right now! Oh, but I can’t do this! I have to clear this mess. The What-ifs. We all go through this- each and every one of us! 

The secret to a good peaceful life is taming that inner dialogue but its simpler said than done. A bad inner dialogue can limit you, make you walk out of good decisions, keep you stuck in bad relationships, and worst of all not let you live the life you want and so rightly deserve. 

This inner chatter can often cause us anxiety- which is nothing but a constant battle between what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future and how do we control it. This chatter can also cause us depression, severe stress which can lead to addictions because we want to run away from that constant blabber in our head. 

However, there is a simple way out of all this. And the beauty of it is that it requires only a small tweak in your language. You see, language is the means of communicating and a wrong word here and there can change the whole meaning! 

There’s a famous joke – a teacher asks the students to punctuate “A woman without her man is nothing” – all the men write “A woman, without her man, is nothing.” And all the women write “A woman: without her, man is nothing.” 

If a small punctuation can make such a difference, imagine a small tweak in your inner dialogue!

So here’s a list that you can use to change your perspective. 

Change thisTo this 
Example: I can’t go there wearing this dress. 
Won’t / Don’t want to
Example: I won’t or don’t want to go there wearing this dress.
Example: I love this but it’s expensive.
Example: I love this and it’s expensive. 
Example: I really need you to help me.
Example: I really want you to help me.
Have to / Should
Example: I have to finish this task by tonight.
Choose to
Example: I choose to finish this task by tonight.

These tweaks are reasonably simple to grasp but difficult to implement. This is so because with these small changes we put ourselves in a spot and suddenly we see the same statements in a new light. 

Take the example of substituting “but” with an “and”- we mentioned that we love the dress but it is expensive- depicting a conflict which leaves us sad. However, when we rewrite the statement as loving the dress and that it’s expensive – the statement itself leaves us quizzing what we just said. This gets us thinking if we really want it? Do we have the means to buy it? Thereby resolving the conflict itself. Sure the dress could be lovely and expensive but the point is what is it that we really want? 

Such language change statements can be empowering. Here’s an example! 

I really want to travel but I have to be here for my parents.


I really want to travel and I’m choosing to be here for my parents.  (Here you might desperately want to travel but you’re choosing to stay for your parents as opposed to blaming your situation.)  

Similarly the above examples are self-explanatory- they help us rethink and evaluate what we are exactly trying to communicate. Once we become mindful of our inner chatter this way, the world seems a little different. We start taking responsibility for our thoughts and hold ourselves accountable for the same. It isn’t comfortable to sit with these changes but like it is said “change is hard in the beginning, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.” 

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