What do I say about “me” to “me?”
I first learned how to think about myself from my West Texas relatives. They taught me their view of how to act, react, interact, and reach conclusions.
My West Texas relatives were cotton farmers working land that looked like the Australian outback. They had limited education, but were excellent thinkers, and gave me an important principle, “Pride cometh before the fall,” which comes from the book of Proverbs. That means in West Texas parlance: “Don’t get the big head.” Asking yourself questions about yourself was all about your ego—in the world of West Texas how much cotton you picked was the measure that mattered to show who you were.
But that question–what do I say to myself when I talk to myself–is of critical, fundamental importance today. The way I relate to myself–how I interact with the “me” in me–determines how my life plays out.
What I say to myself creates my inner “me.” What I tell myself creates the very living space inside of “me”–my inner house–where I live and hang out 24/7. A toxic relationship with myself is like living inside a house that nobody ever cleaned or repaired. A person who doesn’t work to improve their inner space is like a person who sits on the couch and plays video games all day and eats Fritos for breakfast. Working on your inner relationship with “me” takes a great deal of work, just like maintaining your living space.
Build, Remodel, Clean. Building, remodeling, and cleaning our inner living space is a life’s work and worth it. I have to tell you that it’s a work few people will do because they believe that there is little they can do to change what’s happening in them or around them. Letting life happen to us, even though it can be painful, is more comfortable than the difficult work of changing. You have to get to the point that you’re sick and tired of things happening to you, and work with your inner “me” to change what’s happening around us.
By the time we understand something about ourselves, the train that is our lives has left the station and it’s traveling fast. When I got to be a young adult, one part of me said “go out and make it happen,” and the voice of my West Texas relatives said, “Jack, if you get successful you’ll get the big head.” For years in my life I had an inner brake on the engine that said that I should just do well enough to pass in school so as “not get the big head.” I was a successful professional, but not “getting the big head” kept me from going “too far.”
As I began to rethink the things I told myself, I began to understand that my early ways of viewing myself, that not thinking “too highly of myself,” were valid up to a point, but would never let me move forward.
I began to understand that the most important thing I could tell myself is that making a difference and serving other people was the key point of my life, and that I was capable of doing that, and that I did it well. This change in what I told myself was the key to creating a good place that really changed my life. What I did took time and effort and is ongoing today , but it is something you, or anyone else, can do.
Be Happy, Live Well, Get Promoted. What I’m telling myself all day every day will affect my relationship ability as a member of my family and the way I relate at work to my team members. People who have a good relationship with themselves have more effective relationships in business and their friendship circles. They are recognized more by others around them, get promoted more, get laid off less, and earn more.
So how do you change the narrative that you tell yourself?
- The first thing you want is to ask yourself is, do I want my life and career to change?” Am I happy with what I tell myself–the narrative I create about me?”Some people will tell you that they don’t like where they are, but given some practical suggestions about how to change the situation, they’ll give you reasons in every case why what you’re telling them won’t work.
My conclusion over the years is that when a person systematically gives you reasons these situations can’t be different, it is because they fundamentally are satisfied with where they are, regardless of how much they complain. If you want to change your narrative and your life, you can if you want to change.
- Find Advisors, Counselors, Coaches–Invest in Yourself. Organizations and professionals will spend money on offices, computers, and desks. Spending money on helping people sort through your ideas about how you relate to yourself and others is most often seen as spent in time of crisis, short term, and not to be repeated.
Investing in yourself with an executive coach or life coach to understand the narrative that you tell yourself could be the most important investment you ever made. The world is so complex now than the world we all grew up in. We need professionals to help us navigate a world in the midst of historical change, just as you would have a guide in an ongoing wilderness trek. Finding the right guide to help you navigate the waters of today is critical.
Here is a simple exercise that creates a path to change in a person’s life:
- On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied am I with my life, one being lowest and 10 being highest?
- What are the positive and negative parts of your life that made you arrive at your score?
- Am I willing to take steps improve the negative aspects of my life and add to the positive things that will improve it?
- What are the things I’ll never be able to change?
- What are the things I can’t change now, but will be able to change later?
- What is a list of things that I can improve that I’ll begin on now?
- What are the positive things in my life that I can build on?
What do you say to yourself when you talk to yourself? This exercise will enable you to get far ahead of where you are now and can revolutionize your life and career. We are here to help. We have a personal coach who will take you through this exercise. If you will do the work, we’ll help.