Spring Cleaning My Self Talk

Spring Cleaning My Self Talk

As you are cleaning out your closets this spring it’s a great time to take note of that great big closet in your mind. It’s where we store a lot of habits in the way that we think about life, the world around us and ourselves. In our closets we are apt to find things that just don’t fit well anymore. This can also be true about the closet in our mind.

Our mind talks to us all day long.

Its main job is to create thoughts. Our thoughts happen so automatically that often we aren’t even aware of how we got to where our thoughts brought us. Our mind just keeps chattering away at us unless we pause to consider what it’s really saying. Then decide, “is this really what we want to keep hearing in our self-talk.”

Take for example the word “should”. Just how often do you use that word referencing yourself as you go about your day? It’s a word we use a lot more than we realize. And most often we even don’t do what we think we “should” do.

When we say we “should” do something we are actually reinforcing that we aren’t doing it!

We “should” do it but we aren’t. And that’s where our brain focuses—on the not doing part.

It is more useful if we consider the benefits of why we want to do something in our self-talk.

Thinking about why we want to do it motivates us. Our brain focuses on what we gain from doing it, and we are more likely to take action towards doing it. If it is something that is really important to us, remembering its importance is more likely to help us move towards it, too.

We don’t accept reality when we use the word “should”.

We aren’t doing something we want to be doing and then we try to motivate our self through non-acceptance rather than with encouragement!

We do better when we can accept what is and then explore what is happening surrounding the experience—I wonder why this is happening now? We will learn about our self in this process and then can encourage our self rather than dwell in despair about our imperfections.

If “shoulds” don’t really fit so well, perhaps it’s time to decide whether to keep them or clean out that closet in your mind …help yourself learn to let them go!

What are the “shoulds” in your self-talk really saying to you?


  • Jude Vereyken, LMSW, CAADC

    Jude Vereyken, LMSW, CAADC

    For 30 years, Jude has worked as an outpatient behavioral health clinician in the Holland community where she specializes in treating individuals (and family members) affected by substance use disorders; depression, anxiety and stress; grief/loss concerns; trauma histories; and adjustment and co-occurring disorders. Jude has a special interest in treating concerns that affect women’s lives. She lives in the Holland area with her husband and three very spoiled cats!

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