Friday, November 7, 2014

Can't, Can, Need, Should

These last few weeks I have been thinking a lot about my self talk. For those of you who don't know self talk is how social workers and psychologists refer to the conversations we have in our heads that are not necessarily said out loud.

I realized that often in my mind I use the words can't and need when they are really not appropriate. For example, when I see athletic good looking individuals I often think "I NEED to exercise more". In reality I don't need to but I should. How might that change someone's attitude? When I say I need to do something I begin to stress and worry myself about not accomplishing the need. When I say I should do something I am not as stressed because it is no longer something of life and death. Instead it is something of value that I can selectively choose how much and how long to participate in.

Often as human beings we create situations that are way more complicated or stressful than they need to be. Ruth Chang gave a TED talk entitled How to Make Hard Choices that explains this concept very well. She said that often a hard choice is hard only because we choose to make it so. We make these choices hard by trying to logically choose between two equally valuable options. So how does this relate to the words Can't, Can, Need and Should?

They are related because these are some of the words we use to differentiate between these equally valuable options. Returning to my example of exercise, I know that exercise is good for me. Exercise increases physical strength and stamina as well as decrease stress. I also know that I do not like to exercise which creates a feeling of guilt when I see people who enjoy exercising. By using the word "need" in my self talk I have taken a non-stressful event and made it stressful and complicated.

I am curious, What words do you use in your self-talk that make choices or experiences more difficult than they need to be? What strategies have you developed to combat this? Comment below.

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