When someone describes an internal self talk, I am curious to know three key things.
1. The content
2. The way it was said. Is it more reflective or critical? Is it more detached or judging? Is it calm or pressured.
3. What’s the state of mind of the person when experiencing this. Are they present, mindful, or are they very stressed?
In counseling, with the above in mind, we can try to change the content. Change the negative self talk to a more positive one. Change unhelpful thoughts to more helpful ones. This is more in line with a CBT approach. For those who have tried this, you may know that doesn’t always work.
We can change the way it’s being said. A funny example is, say it in a Donald Duck’s voice, and create some defusion and reduce the negative impact of those thoughts. A word of caution. This may risk invalidation in the wrong context so be careful. Defusion is more in line with the ACT approach.
Lastly, we can change their state of mind. When being more mindful and present, and experiencing those thoughts, often the way it’s being said and in time, the content, will naturally change.
So what’s the point we are making?
Don’t forget the last strategy above. It’s the most important one.