Happy October, everyone, and welcome back to the Therapy Spot! Those of you who have listened to my podcast for a while have heard me say something many times. “Better in yourself, and better with others.” Why do I say this? Well, when we improve our internal communication, we get better at external communication, too.
I’m certainly not the only one who says so. Recently, I came across some research results which support using the Internal Family Systems model of therapy. Lead researcher Anne Böckler of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science put it simply. “There is a close link between getting better in understanding oneself and improvement in social intelligence.”
The study focused on a group of people who spent 3 months in a contemplative training course. During the study, they developed not only a better understanding of themselves but also higher emotional intelligence towards others. In fact, the more negative inner parts they could identify, the clearer understanding they had of another’s frame of mind.
This current research got me excited to tell you more about how to get better connected with yourself! I want you to have all the benefits of a deep Self connection. So this week, let’s talk about your inner dialogue.
Is Your Inner Dialogue Really a Monologue?
The concept of “inner dialogue” might feel out of reach for anyone stuck in anxiety, depression, or stress. Whether it’s a negative stress, like resentment or fear, or the positive stress of romantic love, strong emotions disrupt our inner dialogue. When an anxious part takes over, you might feel like you’re swimming in the ocean during a hurricane. Those waves are big.
It’s important to remember, however, that just like our parts, stress exists to protect us. The stress response involves physiological changes in our bodies:
- Our heart rate increases
- The pupils of our eyes dilate
- The bronchial passages in our lungs expand
- We start to sweat
While uncomfortable, every single one of these changes happens so that we can see, sense, and respond to danger. Just like we developed certain coping parts at very young ages, these reactions date back to a very different time. Our body doesn’t know that the stress isn’t something we can run away from, like a wild animal!
So, how can you listen with all of that white noise? How can your parts talk to each other when one of them keeps yelling at the top of its lungs? The short answer: they can’t, because that’s not a dialogue. It’s a monologue, and no one’s listening! So if you’re blended with an anxious part, your first step is to bring about some calm. Then, from a place of calm, you can change your perspective.
Breathe the Stress Away
In his new book, Relaxation Revolution, Herbert Benson discusses the link between breathing, stress, and relaxation at the cellular level. He says that by using your breath, you can alter the basic activity of your cells. Over the years, he’s demonstrated that short periods of breath-focused meditation alter the body’s overall stress response.
When you take slow, deep breaths, you engage in the process of slowing down your body and mind. This gives you time to feel calm, to put the brakes on your racing thoughts. Why is slowing down important? It supports you to become aware of all your resources — not just the ones you use in times of stress.
Do you have four minutes to spare? In this YouTube video, Herbert Bensen guides you into the relaxation response himself. Meditative breathing changes you physiologically so that you can listen. Breath is your antidote to stress, worry and panic, and the key to better communication with yourself.
Inside, and Out
During my podcast, I will walk you through a variety of different ways to improve your inner dialogue. From unblending, to meditative breathing, to journaling, there are so many tools to support you in this journey. My most recent book, Be the One to Heal Yourself, is specifically written to provide a framework of questions to help you really connect with your problem parts. I encourage all of you listening today to find the best way to relieve the physical stress and show up for yourself in a kind way.
Remember: the better you understand yourself, the more easily you’ll understand other people’s perspectives. Who among us wouldn’t want to see more understanding, compassion, and love in the world?
Finally, as always, I’d like to hear from you listeners. Do you have a question, or a topic you would like me to cover? Has one of my podcasts helped you in the past? I invite you to share your story with me, either by leaving me a review on iTunes, or sending me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you leave a review, please send me an email so I can send you a special, limited time “thank you” gift. It’s a recorded meditation exercise to help you with self inquiry, so that you can get to know your parts better.
Thank you so much for joining me again this week.
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