Perhaps you’re familiar with the expression, you create your reality. It’s a popular and catchy phrase frequently used in the Human Potential Movement that refers to the way our mind, through attention and intention, structures our experiences and perceives our reality. Dr. David Simon once said, “Reality is a selective act of attention and interpretation.” According to this view, our attention is what we put our mental focus on—but it is during the interpretation that the intellect analyzes and derives meaning. This interpretation takes place in the form of internal dialogue.
But just what is internal dialogue? Put simply, internal dialogue is the conversation our ego is having with itself. It’s the sub-textual voice that applies logic, reasoning, and beliefs to situations, people, and events. It also serves as a filter for those experiences and colors the way in which we see the world. As such, the internal dialogue plays a vital role in deriving meaning from our life and reality. When our internal dialogue is dark, negative, and dismal, we see a world filtered through those qualities. Conversely, when we have positive, uplifting, and optimistic internal dialogue, we perceive those states as the backdrop of our life.
What follows are six steps that can help you to master your internal dialogue and shape your life into one of happiness and fulfillment.
1. Spend Time in Silence
Meditation is one of the first and most fundamental steps in mastering our internal dialogue. We typically have anywhere between 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts each day and quieting our turbulent mental environment creates the blank canvas upon which to paint a positive internal conversation. When the mind is still it becomes a fertile field that is receptive to the seeds we plant there.
In addition, meditation cultivates our witnessing awareness and helps us pay attention to our mental commentary and its contents. Until we have the clarity of mind brought on by meditation, it becomes very difficult to override our tendency for rote intellectual repetition with positive internal dialogue.
2. Cultivate Gratitude
Gratitude is a powerful mental state that causes a palpable transformation in our internal landscape. When we put our attention on those things we can be grateful for, it automatically shifts us out of a negative mentality. Just by simply repeating the statement, I am so grateful for _____, we create positive momentum in our internal dialogue. Focusing on what’s good or uplifting in your life also conditions you to stay vigilant in looking for more of the same gratitude-worthy experiences to come into your life—or as the saying goes, where attention goes, energy flows.
3. Actively Avoid Negativity
There’s no doubt that negativity is widespread in our modern world. Wherever we look, there seems to be no end to it. This, in part, is due to our brain’s negativity bias—an actual tendency to notice negative situations and events more easily than positive ones. We inherited this neurological artifact from our ancient ancestors who, due to their constant survival mentality, had to always be on the lookout for danger or anything that would put their lives at risk. A beautiful sunset or a good meal was overshadowed by the more pressing needs of safety and shelter. We still carry this tendency within our nervous system and it often inhibits our ability to see the good in the world, even when it’s right in front of us. Therefore, we have to commit ourselves to turning away from negativity as often as we can.
Negative energy can be contagious and pollute the internal dialogue with fear, anger, and other dense mental states. While we can’t avoid all negativity, being consciously aware of refocusing our attention away from the negative and toward the good can have a powerful effect on our internal dialogue.
4. Harness the Power of Affirmations
“’I AM’ are two of the most powerful words, for what you put after them shapes your reality.” – Unknown
Affirmations are strong, positive self-talk statements that can help to reprogram your subconscious mind and internal dialogue toward a more constructive mental environment. To “affirm” means to make firm that which you wish to be true or experience. Affirmations help us replace our old, stale, or obsolete mental commentary with new and more inspiring ideas. With regular practice, affirmations can help to focus your internal dialogue upon your intentions and keep your attention on what you want rather than what you don’t.
5. Practice Impeccable Speech and Behavior
Your speech and behavior are natural outcroppings of your internal dialogue. In a similar way, your actions and speech reinforce your internal dialogue. Therefore, when you consciously choose to practice impeccable speech and behavior, your internal dialogue will automatically become more positive and refined. Being impeccable means behaving in accordance with the highest standards of propriety. In essence, it means being unimpeachable and without fault. This can be a tall order and while none of us are perfect, we can continually aspire to carry the spirit of impeccability within us, refraining from anything that could be potentially considered hurtful to others.
To quote Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Matthew, “It's not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Remembering this can go a long way in maintaining the impeccability of your internal dialogue.
6. Remember Your True Nature
When we get swept up in the ego’s hype and melodrama, it becomes very easy to lose ourselves and forget our true nature as an unbounded spirit. We feel localized in the heavy, object referral world of positions and possessions, roles and titles. However, this is not who we really are. When we identify with our true selves, pure awareness, or pure consciousness, we have the instant recognition that we are free from limitations, that we have spontaneous knowing, and that we exist in a state of complete fulfilment.
As we are reminded in the Bhagavad Gita: “Fire cannot burn it, water cannot wet it, wind cannot dry it, weapons cannot shatter it; it is eternal, it was never born and will never die.” That is our true nature, and when we remember this, our internal dialogue shifts to become a reflection of that knowingness.
The Sanskrit Sutra Sat Chit Ananda as described in Deepak Chopra's book, The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire captures the essence of this idea—truth, consciousness, bliss; my inner dialogue reflects the fire of my soul.
Make an effort to incorporate these tools into your life to keep your internal dialogue positive and uplifting. Practicing them regularly will open the door for you to create the reality you wish to experience.